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Gordhan’s role in Ivan Pillay Sars matter features heavily at Mkhwebane inquiry

The Section 194 Committee hearings into the suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency

The Section 194 Committee hearings into the suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency

Published Mar 3, 2023


Cape Town - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s role in the controversy of former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s retirement and immediate rehiring on contract featured heavily in yesterday’s hearings at the inquiry into suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane.

Mkhwebane’s senior counsel, Dali Mpofu, spent much of the morning cross-examining subpoenaed PPSA chief investigator Rodney Mataboge on his investigation into the matter.

Mpofu questioned whether Sars’ payment to Pillay of R1.1 million as a penalty for early retirement was regular or irregular.

In her May 2019 report on the incident of Pillay’s retirement, Mkhwebane found that Gordhan had acted irregularly by approving the retirement with full benefits and recommended that the president take disciplinary action against Gordhan.

File - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Chris Collingridge

The courts, however, reviewed the report and ruled Mkhwebane’s findings on Gordhan were irrational.

Yesterday, Mpofu read from the court papers of the case that Gordhan brought against Mkhwebane and said it was the basis of allegations of a vendetta by Mkhwebane against the minister.

Mpofu read excerpts from Gordhan’s affidavit in which he said that he believed the timing of the report into the Pillay matter with the findings and remedial action it contained was part of a political campaign against him by “proponents of state capture and defenders of corruption.”

Mpofu said Gordhan had accused Mkhwebane of releasing the report on May 24, 2019, to prevent his appointment to the Cabinet, which was announced a few days later.

On Wednesday Mpofu’s cross-examination questions to Mataboge revolved mostly around the CR17/Bosasa investigation.

Subpoenaed PPSA chief investigator Rodney Mataboge. Picture: Screenshot

The committee heard that Mataboge was the lead investigator in the CR17/Bosasa investigation and supervised the SA Reserve Bank Investigating Unit, the Vrede-2 and the Pillay pension-matter investigations.

However, Mpofu spent the bulk of the afternoon referring to the Constitutional Court's minority judgment of former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in the Bosasa/CR17 matter.

Mpofu said his questions were aimed at finding out how much the minority judgment reflected on the true approach, as opposed “the one (judgment) that said you were out to get Mr Ramaphosa”.

Mataboge said after the Constitutional Court judgment came out, he said to his team “at least there is one voice of reason for us”.

He said if it were not for the minority judgment, he would be despondent and very discouraged as an investigator.