Gwede Mantashe. Picture: SOWETAN
Gwede Mantashe. Picture: SOWETAN

AFRICAN National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has urged those who fought apartheid in solidarity with the liberation movement not to now interfere in the decisions taken in South Africa.

His comment follows an open letter from the Dutch Anti-Apartheid Movement, directed to Mr Mantashe and his deputy Jessie Duarte, expressing "grave concern" about "recent police and other official investigations into some of our comrades".

The movement said it was aware that the South African Revenue Service and Treasury were "shining examples of good governance", and that during the struggle against apartheid the movement was driven by the conviction that solidarity would usher in a new South Africa.

"Today it is exactly that conviction that prompts us to speak out in support of many South Africans who raise their voices against state capture and the defilement of our shared ideals," the open letter read.

The letter comes amid the furore over the Hawks’ investigation into an alleged "rogue unit" at the South African Revenue Service and reports indicating that former tax officials including former deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay are set to be charged for setting up and running the unit.

The Anti-Apartheid Movement mentioned Mr Pillay and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan by name.

It also follows the receipt by Mr Gordhan of 27 questions from the Hawks seeking "clarity" about his knowledge of the unit set up during his tenure as revenue service commissioner. He has maintained that the unit was above board and was approved by then finance minister Trevor Manuel.

"Ivan Pillay is known to us as a courageous freedom fighter who risked his life for years in the forward areas of the struggle. We also fondly remember other equally courageous, women and men of integrity like Pravin Gordhan and many more," the letter read.

In response, Mr Mantashe said to "interfere with processes in our country is not solidarity. It is interference". He said there was no solidarity movement which was a friend of the ANC that would raise issues through an open letter. Rather, they would raise it with the ANC directly and then "allow an engagement between the ANC and themselves".

"We must have a chance to be ourselves. They must not interfere. We very much appreciate the role the Anti-Apartheid Movement played. But we don’t think they should take us by the hand on what we should do and what we shouldn’t do, what we should investigate and what we shouldn’t investigate. I think that is a step too far," Mr Mantashe said.

The letter was signed by the former leadership of the Dutch Anti-Apartheid Movement, including its former president Conny Braam, former secretary-general Fons Geerlings, former treasurer Kier Schuringa and the former editor of an anti-apartheid publication, Bart Luirink.

Writing in his blog, Mr Luirink, now the editor-in-chief of ZAM magazine, detailed the ties between the Dutch Anti-Apartheid Movement and how it assisted with Operation Vula, in which Mr Pillay and Mr Gordhan played a key role.

In the piece, he describes how the pair, who were key in the underground resistance against apartheid, "are today branded enemies of the state".