Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday released a statement seeking to clarify remarks made by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
Mogoeng said on Tuesday that former finance minister Pravin Gordhan had approached him to ask how “his close friend” Judge Dhaya Pillay had fared, after she had just finished an interview for a vacancy on the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Mogoeng said his office received a call from Gordhan seeking an appointment with him.
Gordhan’s statement seeks to expand on the nature of the allegations regarding his meeting.
“I did not meet the Chief Justice in April 2016 to discuss Judge Pillay. The enquiry about Judge Pillay was purely incidental to the purpose of the meeting,” Gordhan said.
“I want to state emphatically that I would never, nor did I in any way, seek to influence the Chief Justice or the JSC in the appointment of judges, whose independence I have always respected.”
“As a member of the executive branch of the state, I am very conscious of the fact that our democracy is based on the separation of powers and the relative independence of the judiciary, legislature and executive.”
“Any misrepresentation, willfully or not, of the 6 April 2016 meeting with the Chief Justice, by political actors who want to defend state capture and corruption, is highly regrettable.
“Judge Dhaya Pillay is a friend, a political activist and a comrade of long standing,” adding she was the life partner of the late Yunus Mahomed, whom Gordhan had also worked closely with.
He said he had met with Mogoeng with the intention to renew tax ombud Judge Ngoepe’s appointment in October 2016 when Gordhan was still minister of finance.
“It was my intention to renew his contract for a further three years, commencing October 2016 and I conveyed this intention to the Chief Justice.”
Gordhan said the JSC acknowledged receipt of his letter on Wednesday morning.