Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane claims Pravin Gordhan is ‘interfering’ in her investigation but says they are investigating him because they want to help clear his name.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, 25 April 2019, on the side lines of her investigation into the Vrede Dairy Farm, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane claims Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan is interfering with her investigation.
“We are investigating him to clear his name. We want him to assist us to do that. In this particular instance … we cannot be requested to provide documents and proofs. We are saying ‘assist us to clear your name’.
“He should be happy that at least we can try to bring this matter to finality because other institutions such as your National Prosecuting Authority [NPA] are investigating the criminal conduct. From our side, we are investigating the complaint by the EFF,” she said.
This after Gordhan set his lawyers on her this week for issuing a subpoena against him over the controversial South African Revenue Service (SARS) rogue unit, a complaint from 2016 which, according to the public prosecutor, was one of the backlog matters that needed finalising.
Mkhwebane says the office of the public protector will look into three matter lodged by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) namely the SARS rogue unit, the early retirement payout made to former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, and the issue of tenders, since Gordhan was the accounting officer at the time as SARS commissioner.
Mkhwebane urged Gordhan to cooperate as her office determined how investigations were handled and said it would be in his best interests to provide all the necessary information.
“I didn’t want him to just receive a Section 7-9 notice and say public protector you didn’t engage me. I’m saying, minister can you give me your side of the story,” she said.
Asked about the dropped charges against the minister by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Mkhwebane explained that her office did not investigate criminality.
“That’s not my mandate, I’m a chapter nine institution and I don’t operate like the other institutions.
“I’m pleading with him to go back and understand how we work. The president is cooperating, as he understood [my] role in office,” she said.