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Public Protector: Gordhan violated Constitution over Sars 'rogue' unit

Busisiwe Mkhwebane made the announcement during a press briefing on Friday in Pretoria.

FILE: Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan at a press briefing at the Lethabo power station on 3 April 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Friday said her office found Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan violated Section 41(1) of the Constitution when allowing a so-called South African Revenue Service (Sars) "rogue" unit to operate during his tenure as the tax agency’s commissioner.

Mkhwebane made the announcement during a press briefing in Pretoria.

The Public Protector found that establishment of the unit was in violation of the country’s intelligence legislation.

Mkhwebane said the complaint was laid by the Economic Freedom Fighters and an anonymous person.

In December last year, the Press Ombudsman ordered the Sunday Times to retract all stories about its Sars "rogue" unit reporting and to apologise in writing to Gordhan and the others implicated.

Gordhan, former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, and former Sars group executive for tax and customs enforcement investigations Johann van Loggerenberg laid a complaint against the publication after their series of reports in 2014 on Sars and the unit. The reports accused the unit of running a brothel and spying on President Jacob Zuma, among other things.

Mkhwebane ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to “take appropriate disciplinary action” against Gordhan within 30 days.

The Public Protector also ordered that the minister should face an ethics investigation in Parliament. She also ordered the National Prosecuting Authority to finalise its prosecution into the "rogue" unit.

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