Mkhwebane accuses Gordhan of ignoring her

The Public Protector has subpoenaed Pravin Gordhan to explain details around the approval of Ivan Pillay's early retirement and package.

FILE: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane releases the report on investigations into financial corruption and planning for Nelson Mandela's funeral on 4 December 2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

PRETORIA - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she only resorted to serving a subpoena on Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan because he ignored her requests on four occasions for him to submit an affidavit to her office.

Gordhan has been asked to appear before Mkhwebane on Wednesday to answer questions related to the early retirement granted to former South African Revenue Service (Sars) Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay.

Pillay and Gordhan were charged with fraud and corruption in 2016 related to this pension payout but their charges were later withdrawn when evidence revealed there was no wrongdoing.

Advocate Mkhwebane says in a statement, she has written to Gordhan on four occasions between February and July this year.

She says she asked the minister to respond to the allegation that he irregularly approved Pillay’s retirement, bought off his pension balance and later allowed him to be re-employed by the Sars.

Mkhwebane says she subpoenaed the minister after he failed to provide a response in correspondence.

However, she stresses that the investigation is still at a preliminary stage and that she expects nothing but co-operation from public officials in her investigations.

On Sunday, in a statement, Gordhan claimed he asked Mkhwebane in February for proof that he acted dishonestly and improper when he approved Pillay’s early retirement. Gordhan claimed he had not yet received any evidence from the advocate proving any wrongdoing.

Gordhan's attorneys say any claim that he has not responded to the Public Protector’s inquiries is deceptive, false and incorrect.

'SUBPOENA NOT TIMED TO COINCIDE WITH INQUIRY'

The Public Protector has also rejected claims that her subpoena of Gordhan was timed to coincide with his appearance at the state capture commission of inquiry this week.

Advocate Mkhwebane says when the subpoena was served on Minister Gordhan, she had no knowledge that the minister was due to testify at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry.

Gordhan has been called to meet with Mkhwebane on Wednesday and is due to testify at the state capture commission on Thursday.

Referring to the withdrawn criminal case, Mkhwebane says her mandate is to investigate impropriety and maladministration which is not necessarily criminal in nature.