EFF President Julius Malema addresses protesters outside the commission of inquiry into state capture in Parktown. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
EFF President Julius Malema addresses protesters outside the commission of inquiry into state capture in Parktown. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The EFF has rehashed the alleged “rogue unit” narrative among the five charges it laid against public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan on Tuesday. 

In a tit-for-tat move in its war against Gordhan, EFF leader Julius Malema laid the charges against the minister at the Brooklyn police station. This came after Gordhan laid three charges against Malema and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu, for crimen injuria, criminal defamation and incitement to violence after their comments about him and his family in recent months, but in particular, last week during a protest outside the commission of inquiry into state capture. 

The first charge by Malema is the contravention of the “intelligence act”, saying the minister established an unlawful intelligence gathering unit, which spied on taxpayers and politicians from the ANC.

These allegations first emerged in The Sunday Times. The newspaper later apologised for the reports. The “rogue unit” narrative has largely been discredited after KMPG also withdrew sections of its report into the matter. 

The evidence, says Malema, is contained in an internal SA Revenue Service (Sars) report by advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, which has also been subject of an investigation by the Hawks, leading to the infamous 27 questions delivered to Gordhan on the eve of the 2016 budget. 

The Sikhakhane report found that the unit was established unlawfully, but recommended that a judicial commission of inquiry be set up to look into the establishment, funding and activities of the unit.

This was not done; rather a committee under judge Frank Kroon was set up to look into the matter. Kroon endorsed Sikhakhane’s findings, although he did not conduct his own investigation. He backtracked on this in September at the Sars commission of inquiry, chaired by retired judge Robert Nugent in September, saying he did not believe the unit was illegally established. 

The probe into the unit by the Hawks culminated in charges against Gordhan by then National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shaun Abrahams but on a different matter — a pension payout to former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

That charge was dropped by Abrahams two weeks later.

The other charges against Gordhan by Malema repeat his allegations outside the state capture inquiry last week. The charges include perjury, money laundering and corruption. 

The EFF details a bank account in Canada, which it claims belongs to Gordhan. Malema alleges that Gordhan asked taxpayers to deposit funds into the account. 

Gordhan, in response to the new attacks by the EFF, said the so-called charges were “defamatory” and “malicious”, and had been publicly disseminated to cause injury to his reputation.

The minister said in a statement that he and his family “reserved their rights to pursue any civil actions for damages arising out of these malevolent and defamatory allegations”.

Gordhan said the allegations around the “rogue unit” were patently false and had been “discredited and disavowed”. He said the SA Revenue Service commission of inquiry found in its interim report that it did not find evidence as to why the unit was said to be unlawful.

Gordhan added that he did not have a bank account outside of SA and had provided evidence to the state capture commission indicating that his daughter was a representative of Investec when she sat on various boards of private companies, and was not the owner of the shares in her role within the bank's private equity team.

Gordhan said the real enemy was corruption and this was the real motive for those going all-out to hide the truth from SA.

marriann@businesslive.co.za