The alleged hostage incident at the South African Revenue Service comes on the back of a last-minute subpoena the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) issued to the chief executive of the Government Pensions Administrations Agency for documents to explain the approval of early retirement requests.

In an affidavit filed by the Helen Suzman Foundation, the organisation’s Francis Antonie states that the timing of this subpoena suggests a “desperate, 11th-hour” bid to prop up the prosecution of [Finance Minister Pravin] Gordhan, which was “clearly hopeless from the start”.

The foundation and Freedom Under Law have launched a legal challenge against the NPA over Gordhan’s prosecution.

The basis of the fraud charge against the finance minister relates to his approval of Pillay’s early retirement package.

In the affidavit, Antonie says that over a five-year period before August 2010, the government pension fund approved more than 3  000 requests from various government departments for staff to retire before the age of 60 with full benefits.

The subpoena to the head of the government pension fund, issued on October 20, “is an indictment of the investigative and prosecutorial process” in the Gordhan matter, Antonie says.

“It is also clear that the NPA … never completed sufficient investigations nor had sufficient evidence to take the formidable decision to prefer charges against Minister Gordhan.

“This is information the NPA should have gathered long before any decision to prosecute was made and the NPA’s failure to do so underlines the irrationality and unlawfulness of its decision.”

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