Emails involving the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) and the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) case against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan led to an alleged “hostage” drama at a Pretoria office of the SA Revenue Service (Sars) last week.
Video footage has emerged showing a brawl between senior Sars employee Vlok Symington, four Hawks officials and the bodyguard of Sars commissioner Tom Moyane.
Among them was Brigadier Nyameka Xaba, the Hawks’ lead investigator in the case against Gordhan.
Hawks officials are accused of using physical force to retrieve a printout of an email from Symington, who was reportedly left with bruises on his forearms and hands from the altercation.
In the recordings, which are in the Mail & Guardian‘s possession, Symington can reportedly be heard shouting that he was being held against his will and a hostage.
The drama was reportedly triggered by an email Moyane mistakenly shared, of lead prosecutor Torie Pretorius requesting Xaba to obtain a statement from Symington on October 17.
Instead of dealing with the matter, Xaba asked Sars lawyer David Maphakela to deal with the NPA’s request. They then sent an email to Moyane, instead of dealing with the request.
In the email, Maphakela reportedly told Moyane that he could not be involved in the issue, for “ethical reasons”, as he held a different view to the one pursued by the NPA and the Hawks.
The email, which has now found its way into the public domain has raised questions as to whether Sars’ lawyer disagrees with Gordhan’s prosecution.
The recordings, which were reportedly made by Symington, have been handed over, with other evidence, to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), which is investigating the matter.
Meanwhile, constitutional rights bodies Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) have filed court papers alleging that the NPA was “desperately” trying to find information to bolster its “hopeless” fraud case against Gordhan.
Additional reporting by Ilse de Lange