Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s lawyer Tebogo Malatji says his client will immediately take on review the Public Protector’s report, on his decision to grant former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay early retirement.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found Gordhan to have violated the Constitution when he approved a retirement package for Pillay.
She has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to take disciplinary action against Public Enterprises Minister.
Malatji says in a statement that Gordhan totally rejects Busisiwe Mkwhebane’s findings.
The lawyers say charges in this matter were withdrawn by the NPA in 2016 – most likely because they were not legally sustainable. They say Gordhan takes issue with the timing of the report – just one day before President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration and expected announcement of his new cabinet.
Gordhan was Finance Minister at the time.
The DA says Gordhan is within his rights to challenge Public Protector’s findings on Irvin Pillay in a court of law.
DA Spokesperson Solly Malatsi says, “The matter between Mr Gordhan and the Public Protector has dragged on for too long. Mr Gordhan disputes the contents of the report and remedial actions; he must approach the court of law. On our side, we cannot speak on the legitimacy of the report. That is for the court to decide. It is the same as the Frede dairy farm case which we successfully took on review.”
Charges against Gordhan over Pillay’s early retirement were abandoned by the NPA in 2016. The NPA was led by Shaun Abrahams at the time.
In other developments Gordhan last month said he had complied with the Constitution when setting up an investigative unit at SARS – that some have labelled the “rogue unit”. His office accused Mkwhebane of persistent harassment of the minister – among other things.
Lawyers representing Ivan Pillay have also released a statement below:
1 Our client, Ivan Pillay, notes the publication of a report by the Public Protector in regard to his retirement during 2010.
2 On Tuesday this week Mr Pillay responded in detail, in the form of a sworn affidavit, to a notice sent to him by the Public Protector setting out her intended findings. In her published report the Public Protector has dismissed Mr Pillay’s detailed response out of hand.
3 Other implicated parties – Minister Pravin Gordhan and former SARS commissioner, Mr Oupa Magashula – also submitted their detailed rebuttals to the Public Protector in the past few days. Their contentions were similarly rejected out of hand by the Public Protector.
4 Mr Pillay has requested us to publicly release his affidavit which was submitted to the Public Protector. For ease of reference that is attached.
5 It is well documented that the issue of Mr Pillay’s pension pay-out has been the subject of several processes and investigations that have all found nothing untoward with it at all. Among these are:
5.1 Before the then SARS Commissioner, Mr Magashula, submitted the proposal to the then Minister of Finance, he sought the advice of several pension experts and most importantly the advice of the Public Service Commission, who endorsed his proposal.
5.2 Before the Minister of Finance approved the Commissioner’s proposal, the Minister sought the advice of pension experts other than those consulted by the Commissioner and the advice of the Minister of Public Administration at the time.
5.3 When Mr Tom Moyane took office as the SARS Commissioner in 2014, he commissioned a legal opinion from his attorneys who advised him that the pension pay-out was regular and lawful.
5.4 The National Prosecuting Authority sought to charge Messrs Pillay, Gordhan and Magashula in 2016. The National Director of Public Prosecutions, however, withdrew the charges in October 2016 on the ground that the intended prosecution had no prospect of success.
5.5 The Nugent Commission also considered the matter and found that the pension pay-out was regular and lawful.
6 All of this information, and more, was presented to the Public Protector in the course of her investigation. The Public Protector has, however, arrived at findings which are entirely at odds with this weighty body of legal opinion.
7 Mr Pillay emphatically disagrees with the findings made by the Public Protector. He believes that her findings are reviewable inasmuch as they are both factually and legally flawed. He intends to seek recourse in the courts. We are confident he will find justice there.
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