Uncertainty looms ahead of Pravin Gordhan's case

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Fear and uncertainty has gripped South Africa as newspaper reports say Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is facing imminent arrest. Fear and uncertainty has gripped South Africa as newspaper reports say Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is facing imminent arrest.

Newspaper reports say Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is facing imminent arrest for his role over the rogue unit formed during his tenure as South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner.

The Sunday Times yesterday reported that the Hawks want Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to be prosecuted for "espionage" in a case related to the activities of the South African Revenue Service "rogue unit" established while he was the tax agency's commissioner.

The move is likely to plunge the markets back into the turmoil seen in December last year when President Jacob Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister.

Nene was replaced by David van Rooyen, an unknown in financial roles, who was then replaced by former minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan less than a week.

By the middle of December the rand took a severe tumble and had lost close to 30% of its value against the dollar. This also weakened the listed property sector’s overall return severely.

Bringing Gordhan back did reverse some of the rand collapse but ratings agencies remained wary about SA as an investment destination.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says the reported imminent arrest of the Minister, would be a disaster for South Africa.

Meanwhile. the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says no decision has been made to prosecute anyone in this matter. National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams says it’s “mischievous” to suggest that Minister Gordhan’s arrest is imminent, because no such decision has been taken.

Abrahams says arrests are not on the cards, at least for now, in relation to the Hawks' probe into a so-called rogue unit at the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

According to senior Hawks sources, the unit has handed over a case docket to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision to prosecute Gordhan and eight other former SARS officials said to have been involved in or have had knowledge of the unit's activities.

The unit has been accused of illegally gathering intelligence and spying on taxpayers.

The Sunday Times understands that some of Gordhan's cabinet colleagues were informed of his imminent arrest this week.

Insiders at the Hawks and the NPA told the Sunday Times that they were waiting for the "political go-ahead" before acting.

Gordhan would apparently be asked to appear in court to spare him "the embarrassment" of being handcuffed by officers.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko's spokesman Musa Zondi did not respond and referred the Sunday Times to Nhleko.

Nhleko was not available at the time of going to press.

Gordhan's office declined to comment.

There are fears that Gordhan's arrest, in what is seen as a power struggle between the National Treasury and the Presidency, could spark a new crisis for the economy.

The pending arrest comes after the country avoided a negative rating by ratings agency Moody's last week. Moody's cited Gordhan's reappointment as one of the reasons that South Africa had avoided junk status.

Read more on:

Pravin Gordhan  |  Jacob Zuma  |  Nhlanhla Nene
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