Religious leaders: Gordhan fraud charge 'state sponsored thuggery'

Inter-faith leaders and academics have called on President Jacob Zuma to intervene.

FILE: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Anthony Molyneaux/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The National Religious Leaders Council has described the fraud charges against finance minister Pravin Gordhan as "state sponsored thuggery", while a group of academics say the country is shooting itself in the foot.

The NPA announced earlier today that a formal summons has been issued for Gordhan on charges related to a pay-out made by Sars to former deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay when he took early retirement.

The interfaith leaders and group of academics have previously supported the minister and called on the president to intervene in the spat between the minister and Hawks.

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein says the motive for the charges against Gordhan is clear.

"The current actions being taken against the Minister of Finance are a form of state sponsored thuggery."

One of the academics, Lumkile Mondi, says the charges go against the work done by South Africa to allay fears of a potential ratings downgrade.

"We are quiet worried that South Africa continues to shoot itself in the foot."

The religious leaders and the group of academics say while they hope the charges will be tested in court the timing is questionable.

Meanwhile the Chamber of Mines says that no individual is above the rule of law but legal means should not be used to opportunistically pursue alleged agendas under the guise of justice and due process.

The chamber says it is deeply concerned about the state of public institutions in South Africa and will raise the matter with the Presidency.