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Gordhan lodges urgent court application to interdict Mkhwebane's report

The minister’s lawyers confirmed this in a statement on Wednesday evening.

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 Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has lodged an urgent application to suspend and interdict enforcement of the remedial orders by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane over the establishment of the South African Revenue Service’s (Sars) so-called “rogue” unit, and that Gordhan misled Parliament over a meeting with a member of the controversial Gupta family.

The minister’s lawyers confirmed this in a statement on Wednesday evening.

Last Friday, Mkhwebane made several damning findings against Gordhan related to the intelligence unit during his time as the Sars commissioner.

The unit was called the High-Risk Investigations Unit and was alleged to have carried out rogue operations, such as bugging the National Prosecuting Authority's offices. The unit was set up to investigate high-profile tax offenders. Gordhan has always maintained that the unit was above board and had ministerial approval.

• Read: 5 key findings the PP made against Pravin Gordhan

The Public Protector also found that Gordhan violated the Executive Ethics Code by deliberately misleading the National Assembly by not disclosing that he had met with Ajay Gupta.

The minister's lawyers want the High Court to suspend the enforcement of Mkhwebane’s remedial orders until the High Court application is concluded.

Mkhwebane ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to “take appropriate disciplinary action” against Gordhan within 30 days of the release of her report.

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.

The minister wants the court to declare that the Office of the Public Protector and Mkhwebane personally acted "dishonestly or, alternatively, recklessly made her findings in the report against Gordhan, in that they knew that the findings were false or were reckless as to their truth".

He also wants Mkhwebane to be ordered to pay his legal costs personally.

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