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Helen Suzman Foundation gives Hawks & NPA ultimatum over Gordhan possible arrest

The foundation says it wants Gordhan to be given 20-day notice to apply to a court for an interdict.

SA Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan speaks to a group of UCT students a week before the 2016 municipal elections. Picture: Anthony Molyneaux/EWN

PRETORIA - The Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law has given the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) an ultimatum, undertake by no later than noon on Monday not to arrest Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan without prior warning, or be hauled off to court.

The organisations were among several which gathered at the Hawks offices in Pretoria last week to show support for two former South African Revenue Services (Sars) officials implicated in an investigation.

Gordhan and four former Sars officials have been implicated in an investigation into the establishment and conduct of a now disbanded investigation unit within the revenue service.

In a joint statement, the foundation and Freedom Under Law say they want an undertaking that if Gordhan is to be charged, he will be given at least 20-day notice in order to apply to a court for an interdict.

Failing such undertaking, the organisations will turn to the courts.

They say that the allegations against the minister are without foundation and any threat or attempt to arrest him would amount to an abuse of process, intended to harass, humiliate and intimidate him.

The organisations argue that the administration of justice, the economy and the republic itself have already been gravely endangered by the actions of the Hawks and the NPA.

WILL GORDHAN BE CHARGED?

On Monday, it was reported the Finance Minister could be charged with graft as soon as this week.

The City Press newspaper reported on Sunday, citing senior sources in the police, the NPA and the tax service.

The AFP news agency quoted an NPA spokesperson as saying "there is no decision whatsoever to prosecute anyone", but that police had given prosecutors a docket on Friday. Neither Gordhan nor the prosecuting service could be reached by Reuters then.

Last week, police summoned Gordhan in connection with an investigation into a controversial spy unit set up in the revenue service when he headed the organisation, rattling South African markets and sending the rand down five percent.

The investigation first came to light in February and political pundits have said Gordhan is being undermined by a faction in the government and ruling African National Congress (ANC) allied to President Jacob Zuma.

According to Sunday's report in City Press, 30 witnesses have been called to testify against Gordhan and three former officials from the Sars.

The newspaper said Gordhan would be charged with corruption for allegedly granting early retirement to Ivan Pillay, a former commissioner of the Sars who is also under investigation. It said charges could be brought as soon as this week.

Zuma said last week he backed Gordhan but was powerless to stop a police investigation into him, signalling a prolonged tussle that could add to market volatility.