NPA wants state capture suspects extradited, says Abrahams
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will apply to have the suspects in state capture investigations extradited‚ said National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams on Wednesday.
Abrahams was addressing parliament’s portfolio committees on justice and police in a combined sitting‚ along with Hawks head Lieutenant-General Yolisa Matakata.
He said this however limits the cases in which the suspects can be heard.
“If‚ for example‚ we apply for the extradition of suspects in the Estina matter‚ then we are only bound to try them in respect of the Estina matter and we can’t charge them in respect of other matters they are potentially linked to.”
Abrahams has denied that the NPA delayed state capture investigations. He told the committees on justice and police on Wednesday the NPA did not “drag their feet”.
“Decisions were taken jointly by the prosecuting team and the DPCI (Hawks) and the matter was not right for enrollment. Surely the fault cannot be placed at the door of the NPA‚” Abrahams said. “Ordinarily matters of this nature take an extremely long time to investigate and sometimes even years to prosecute.” Abrahams said in December the prosecutors were unhappy with the prima facie evidence to proceed.
Hawks head Matakata previously said the NPA hindered their investigation into the Estina dairy farm in Vrede by sitting on the docket for months. She also accused the NPA of sitting on other finalised state capture investigations.
Matakata on Wednesday backtracked on these remarks. “The work of the DPCI (Hawks) was never hindered by the NPA … There was a hindering in that context of people taken to court‚ but not necessarily that [the] NPA hindered the work of the DPCI (Hawks).”
DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach told Matakata: “I have never witnessed a prosecutor throwing anyone under the bus like you were thrown under the bus today (by Abrahams). It’s a disgrace.”
She added that it was obvious the Guptas and other suspects were flight risks. “The Guptas and at least Duduzane Zuma are widely known to have assets abroad‚ considerable assets abroad‚ homes abroad‚ access to private aircraft. They travel extensively and by their own admission they have more than one passport. If these are not people who are considered special cases and a flight risk‚ then clearly in my 26 years of prosecuting I did not know what was.”
DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said the Estina investigation is one of the most “bungled” of “all time”.
Times Select reported the fight between the Hawks and NPA over state capture investigations and blew the lid on how the Hawks were forced not to announce a warrant of arrest for Atul Gupta and his brother Rajesh in a bid to lure them back into the country.
Sources said the pair left the country as the NPA delayed on giving the arrests a go-ahead.
Hawks investigators then decided to publicise the arrest warrants. They hoped the duo would believe they were not wanted and could return to South Africa.
The Gupta brothers are wanted on charges of fraud and corruption in relation to Estina. Ajay is further wanted for allegedly offering a bribe to former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas in 2015.
The Hawks insist they were ready to pounce on the Guptas before they left the country‚ but the NPA was tardy in dealing with the docket that was signed off in November.
The Sunday Times reported last month that Atul casually walked into the South African consulate in Dubai seeking to certify court papers in his application to set aside a preservation order obtained by the Asset Forfeiture Unit‚ which reveals that he personally received R10-million illegally from the Estina dairy project.
- Additional reporting by Qaanitah Hunter