#GordhanvsPublicProtector: 'PP ignored minister's efforts to respond to findings'
PRETORIA - The North Gauteng High court has heard that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane ignored Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan's offer to respond to adverse findings against him in the so-called "rogue unit" probe.
Gordhan's legal representative, Advocate Wim Trengove, argued on Tuesday that Mkhwebane has a reputation of not giving some parties implicated in her investigations a chance to respond before finalising her probes and making adverse findings.
"That includes not only Gordhan, it also includes the president, the minister of police, and the National Director of Public Prosecutions," he said.
Trengove said Gordhan was entitled to respond in connection with every aspect of the adverse finding against him.
"We submit the public protector was required to afford Gordhan and others a hearing," he argued.
Gordhan lodged an urgent application to suspend and interdict the remedial orders by the Public Protector, citing "improper motives" on her part.
Mkhwebane recently made devastating findings against Gordhan in relation to his role in the establishment of a so-called rogue spying unit at the South African Revenue Service (Sars).
She found that the establishment of the unit was unlawful and that Gordhan, who was Sars commissioner at the time, had violated the Constitution.
She also found that the unit had conducted irregular and unlawful intelligence operations and that Sars failed to follow procurement rules when it bought spying equipment.
Trengove disputed Mkhwebane's findings and said the unit was perfectly lawful and had a mandate to secure an efficient and effective enforcement in combating organised crime intended to defraud SARS.
"The purpose of the unit was to combat exportation and manufacturing of drugs, harvesting of abalone and the smuggling of cigarettes," Trengove said.
He argued that Mkhwebane's finding that Gordhan misled parliament is irrational and devoid of any supporting evidence.
He continued saying there is no reason for the urgent implementation of this remedial action while there is still a challenge on the lawfulness of the report.
"The conduct happened many years ago - but for some reason the Minister must be punished within 30 days."
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema was also in court, accompanied by the party's leadership. The party has joined the proceedings in support of Mkhwebane.
The matter continues.
African News Agency (ANA)