South African police say not investigating deputy finance minister Jonas

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas arrive for the 2017 Budget Speech at Parliament in Cape Town

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s Hawks elite police unit said on Monday it is not investigating Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas, but only making enquiries at this stage over claims that he was part of a probe into allegations of corruption at state-owned South African Airways (SAA).

City Press newspaper reported on Sunday the Hawks is investigating allegations that Jonas used his political influence to secure U.S. aircraft company AAR Corp contracts to supply components and tyres to the state airline.

“For now that investigation is still at an enquiry level and once we pick up anything then a case docket will then be opened. There is not even a case docket,” Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi told Reuters.

“We don’t want to even suggest that the minister is being investigated or anything. We are not party to that,” he said.

Jonas has been an outspoken critic of government corruption and he opened divides within the ruling African National Congress last year when he said businessmen friends of President Jacob Zuma said they could secure him the finance ministry job.

Zuma and the Indian Gupta family deny any wrongdoing.

An investigation last year by the Hawks into Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, which was later dropped, shook South Africa’s financial markets.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by James Macharia)