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We hope the Gupta arrests will be the first of many more state capture prosecutions: DA and Outa

07 June 2022 - 07:06 By TimesLIVE
Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta at the ANC elective conference in December 2012 in Mangaung, South Africa. File photo.
Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta at the ANC elective conference in December 2012 in Mangaung, South Africa. File photo.
Image: Sunday Times / Simphiwe Nkwali

The DA and Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) have welcomed the arrest of two of the Gupta brothers who they labelled as “state capture kingpins”.

Atul and Rajesh Gupta were arrested in Dubai. The brothers are wanted in SA to face fraud, corruption and money-laundering charges linked to state capture.

“We hope that this is indeed the beginning of arrests and prosecution of those who have — locally and abroad — looted our country for years and are directly responsible for the hardships that millions of South Africans face today,” said DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube.

“We look forward to more information regarding the arrests and the process that will be followed after these arrests. It is of absolute importance that there is transparency on this matter,” Gwarube added. 

Outa said there should be no further delays in bringing the brothers back to SA.  

The organisation hoped there would be co-operation between SA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in facilitating their extradition. 

Stefanie Fick, Outa’s executive head of accountability, said: “We've always said that fighting corruption in SA requires resilience — that if the rule of law is allowed to take its course, those implicated will eventually get their day in court. It seems like that day is around the corner for the Gupta kingpins.”

The organisation’s lead investigator Rudie Heyneke agreed. 

“This is a major step forward in the prosecution of state capture culprits,” said Heyneke. 

“It put an end to rumours about the Gupta family’s whereabouts, and with their arrest out of the way, we’re hoping that more arrests and swift prosecutions will follow.”

The justice department confirmed the arrests in a statement: “The ministry of justice and correctional services confirms that it has received information from law enforcement authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that fugitives of justice, namely, Rajesh and Atul Gupta, have been arrested.

“Discussions between various law enforcement agencies in the UAE and SA on the way forward are ongoing. The SA government will continue to co-operate with the UAE.”

Outa, a non-profit civil action organisation which focuses on exposing government corruption, has been pushing for action against the Guptas for years. In 2019, it fought to freeze an account linked to the Guptas’ Tegeta Resources in which billions of rand intended for mine rehabilitation were kept. 

The group has also laid charges against several government officials with alleged dubious ties to the Guptas.

Meanwhile, the DA suggested the Gupta arrests would not make the party lose sight of the scathing allegations made against President Cyril Ramaphosa last week by former spy boss Arthur Fraser. 

Fraser has alleged Ramaphosa hatched a plan to cover up a crime at his Limpopo farm where thieves made off with millions in foreign currency being kept there in 2020.

“As President Cyril Ramaphosa faces serious questions about the dubious theft of millions of rand of cash from his farm in Limpopo, it is important that our law enforcement agencies are impartial and thorough. We will monitor this matter closely,” said Gwarube.

Ramaphosa has insisted his hands are clean. Speaking at the closing of the ANC Limpopo conference at the weekend, he said it was clear this was part of a political agenda. He said “dirty politics” were behind allegations he was involved in crime.

“I’ve never stolen money from anyone, be it our taxpayers, be it from anyone, I’ve never done so. I’ve never stolen money from taxpayers. My integrity as a leader will never allow me to do so.”

He confirmed a robbery happened on his farm but denied that $4m was taken, as alleged by Fraser. He added that the cash taken was money he had made selling game and cattle.

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