Pravin Gordhan hits back at Independent Media owner Iqbal Surve
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has lashed out at Iqbal Surve, the owner of Independent Media, after he alleged that Gordhan was behind a search and seizure operation that took place at his Cape Town offices this week.
In a media statement released on Thursday evening by the minister's lawyers Malatji and Co Attorneys, Surve's allegations were described as "malicious, yet nonsensical utterances".
Surve, is the chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, the owner of Independent Media which has newspaper titles like The Star, Weekend Argus and Pretoria News.
The raid on Wednesday was led by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) following an order of the high court.
In a video clip of the raid on Wednesday, Survé said: "It's Pravin Gordhan behind this and certain people. It's an abuse of regulatory authority… I'm aware you went to the first judge [to seek a search and seizure order] and the judge said no to you, it's a political case. And you went to the second judge, who's a friend of the DA and Pravin Gordhan."
Surve added that the laptop of his PA would not be seized as it contains privileged information.
When an FSCA official, who identified herself as Nomsa Banda, tried to address Surve, he interjected: "This is Pravin Gordhan using state institutions to fight political battles because Independent Media is not keeping quiet about corruption that exists among certain ministers, the Sars rogue unit. It's an attempt to intimidate us."
Gordhan's lawyers said Surve has launched unsubstantiated attacks on ther client without any evidence or facts, adding that he also attacked the judiciary.
"The chief justice (Mogoeng Mogoeng) has invited those who make these kinds of allegations against judges to come forward with evidence to prove any impropriety on the part of judicial officers," said the law firm.
"Mr Surve is invited to produce proof of allegations he has made about the two judges, including the one who refused to grant the FSCA a warrant and that another judge who granted the warrant, did so because he has a relationship with our client. "Distraction and deflections have become a reflexive response by those who are under suspicion of one or other kind of misdemeanours. Our client has no oversight over the FSCA and could not possibly have directed its operations, including on whom the FSCA must conduct inspections," Malatji said.
"What the South African public knows is that Mr Surve and his business entities have been the subject of the Mpati Commission of Inquiry.
"The attempt at deflecting attention from this, by making false and defamatory allegations against (minister) Gordhan and others, will not assist him and others in being held accountable for possible transgressions of the law," he added.