Cape Town – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has instructed his lawyers to respond to the Hawks, Treasury said in a statement on Tuesday.
Gordhan had instructed his lawyers to respond following a “threatening” statement released earlier on Tuesday.
“Notwithstanding that the Hawks have not responded to the minister’s lawyers’ representations for further clarity, the minister has nonetheless instructed his legal team to prepare an adequate response,” Treasury said.
The minister said he would have liked to have abided by the presidency and the ruling party’s requests not to debate the matter publicly, but was forced to respond.
“However, once again the Hawks triggered a response because of their threatening statement,” he said.
Gordhan said reports that he had not responded to a letter from the Hawks were misleading.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Hawks said had Gordhan behaved like any law-abiding citizen and provided answers, the current stand-off could have been avoided.
In a hard hitting statement, Hawks spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, said the investigation would not be stalled by “an individual who refuses to comply with the authorities”.
The statement accused the minister of demanding preferential treatment.
“This is neither a talk show nor a soapie. We are mandated to investigate without fear, favour or prejudice and there is nowhere in the constitution wherein calling a press conference has been mentioned as another means of conducting investigations,” the Hawks said.
'Left us no choice'
Gordhan was given a Monday deadline to answer 27 questions regarding a so-called "rogue unit" in the SA Revenue Service.
Gordhan on Sunday said he had not received a second letter from the Hawks indicating a deadline for Monday.
On Tuesday, the Hawks said it was very disturbing that the minister was adamant that he had never seen the letter.
Receipt of the second letter had been received from the minister’s lawyers, the Hawks said.
“The Hawks do not engage people on public space but the Minister has left us no choice but to clear the air, set the record straight and restore public’s trust on us as an elite crime fighting unit.”
Mulaudzi said the minister had also questioned the authority of the Hawks head.
“The minister, for whatever reasons, has failed to meet the second deadline for answering questions and our legal team are forging a way forward which will see the Hawks exercising our constitutional powers,” they said.