Pravin Gordhan’s arrest would “shatter investor confidence‚ risk a sovereign ratings downgrade and be a disaster for the already fragile zero-growth‚ zero-jobs economy in South Africa”‚ the Democratic Alliance (DA) said.
The DA’s David Maynier described the finance minister being “requested to appear before the Hawks suggests he may be informed about possible charges and may face arrest in connection with allegations relating to the Sars ‘rogue unit’ ” as a “major escalation in the “SARS Wars”.
Market reaction was indeed swift‚ with the rand falling sharply against the dollar on Tuesday following a report that Gordhan and four former South African Revenue Service (Sars) officials have been summoned to report to the Directorate for Priority Crime on Thursday at 10am.
The currency‚ which had strengthened in recent weeks‚ fell from from R13.4547/$ in mid-afternoon trade to R13‚6978/$ at 6pm‚ about 0.8% lower on the day.
Maynier said the “only option to get to the bottom of the allegations relating to the SARS ‘rogue unit’ is the appointment of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry in terms of Section 84 of the Constitution”.
The story emerged when the Daily Maverick reported that Gordhan‚ former deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay‚ group executive Johann van Loggerenberg‚ spokesperson Adrian Lackay and initial head of the investigative unit Andries van Rensburg had been ordered to report to the Hawks in Pretoria.
When contacted by Business Day‚ Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said “no comment“.
Daily Maverick had quoted him as saying he did not have a “mandate to discuss any case or any confidential information attached to any case that is still under investigation. Any matters related to this enquiry is mere speculation and we will also not comment on it“.
The group were reportedly sent letters informing them of the charges they will face.
This related to the alleged “rogue unit” established at the revenue service when now Finance Minister Gordhan was commissioner.
Neither Gordhan nor any of four ex-Sars officials had commented at the time of publishing‚ but a reliable source told Business Day that Lackay was not among those summoned.