Pravin Gordhan has sought to clarify a meeting he had with Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in 2016. (Photo: Felix Dlanagamandla/Gallo Images/File)

Pravin Gordhan has sought to clarify a meeting he had with Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in 2016. (Photo: Felix Dlanagamandla/Gallo Images/File)

  • Pravin Gordhan has written to the JSC to clarify a meeting he had with Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in 2016.
  • He said the meeting wasn’t about his friend, Judge Dhaya Pillay, but he did mention her interview.
  • Gordhan said he’d been a friend of Pillay since the days of the anti-apartheid struggle in the 1970s.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has written to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to give his side of the story after Chief Justice (CJ) Mogoeng Mogoeng hinted that Gordhan conducted himself improperly at a meeting five years ago.

In the letter, addressed to commission secretary Sello Chiloane, Gordhan said he had only previously engaged with Mogoeng “in my official, professional capacity on several occasions”.

In a statement released on Wednesday afternoon, in response to the allegations made by Mogoeng at the JSC the day before, Gordhan admitted that, following a meeting with Mogoeng on another matter, he “in passing” referred to Judge Dhaya Pillay’s interview with the JSC to fill positions for the Supreme Court of Appeal on completion of the meeting.

“The CJ responded. I then left,” Gordhan said.

By that time, it was already known that Pillay didn’t get the job.

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Gordhan said his records showed that he met with Mogoeng on 6 April 2016 in Cape Town, and there were a number of matters on the agenda at the time.

Gordhan admitted he was a friend of Pillay, “a political activist and a Comrade (sic) of long standing”.

He also said she was the life partner of the late anti-apartheid activist, Yunus Mahomed, who passed away in 2008, “with whom I had worked in the formation of civic organisations, later in the United Democratic Front, and in the ANC underground, during the 1970s and 1980s”.

Gordhan said:

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. In any event, as the Chief Justice himself indicated at the JSC, by the time I met him, ‘it was public knowledge that you (Judge Pillay) did not make it’.

Gordhan concluded his statement by saying: “I want to state emphatically that I would never, and 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, wilfully 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.”

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