Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has questioned why the Hawks have issued a summons just 15 days before he delivers his medium-term budget.
Gordhan was responding to reports that the Hawks had served him with a summons on charges of fraud on Tuesday morning.
“What is it about this country, and some in this country [politicians and those in the law], who choose these times to do these things?” asked Gordhan.
He reminded the audience that the news of his impending arrest had broken in February, also just before he delivered his budget speech.
Gordhan stopped his speech midway at a seminar on Gauteng’s open tender initiative to address the news of the summons.
Earlier he had spent a few minutes speaking on the phone backstage at the Gallagher convention centre, as Gauteng Premier David Makhura spoke to the audience.
The minister found himself pitted against the Hawks at the beginning of the year when the special police unit announced that it was investigating a so-called rogue unit established at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) when Gordhan was commissioner.
Gordhan said on Tuesday his family had called him, saying a police officer had been to his house to deliver the summons. The minister was not home at the time.
The officer then went to the Treasury but Gordhan said he did not know what might have happened there.
“Given the fiscal austerity, they might not have been given tea,” he said to the crowd’s amusement.
Gordhan said he expected that he would have to appear in court on November 2.
He urged the audience to question the motives behind the actions of the Hawks, again eliciting applause.
“Where are they [the Hawks] getting their instructions from and for what purpose?” he asked, adding that it looked like SA was in for a bit of excitement.
The audience gave Gordhan a standing ovation after he delivered his speech on the open tender system.
The minister applauded the decision by the Gauteng provincial government regarding the open up tender processes, saying this would prevent SA from falling into the rot that some wanted it to fall into.