The announcement fell on Monday evening, via a press release from the South African Ministry of Justice: Atul and Rajesh Gupta have been arrested. On Tuesday, the Dubai police, specifying that their arrest is linked to “criminal charges and money laundering”, affirms that their extradition must be finalized.
The long hunt for the sulphurous businessmen of Indian origin who siphoned off the coffers of South Africa is coming to an end.
South African justice has been trying for years to get hold of the family that managed to make Jacob Zuma a puppet, bought with bribes throughout his two terms as head of the country (2009 -2018).
Officially, the two brothers in the hands of the police were wanted by Interpol in connection with a case around a dubious contract of 1.5 million euros.
But the wealthy family is more widely accused of having infiltrated the top of the state thanks to its long friendship with Jacob Zuma: influence on the choice of ministers, pressure to pocket public contracts, looting of public companies (electricity, transport, aviation), before fleeing.
According to some estimates, the trio would have won the equivalent of around three billion euros through their illicit activities.
The third brother, Ajay, is not concerned in this chapter but is cited in another case of embezzlement and corruption.
The main opposition party, Democratic Alliance, welcomed these arrests, hoping that they sign “the beginning of the prosecution of those who (…) have plundered our country for years and are directly responsible for the difficulties facing millions of South Africans today.
– Right of way –
After regular press revelations, an explosive report by the mediator of the Republic, Thuli Madonsela, revealed the extent of the grip at the end of 2016: South Africa was outraged, the manhunt began. The siblings are being prosecuted for theft, fraud and criminal association.
In 2018, a commission chaired by Judge Raymond Zondo and responsible for investigating state corruption was created. The ANC, the historic party in power, then pushes Zuma to resign. Smelling scorched, the Gupta family vanishes into thin air. Rumor had it that its members had found refuge in Dubai.
A section published in April of Judge Zondo’s report, the conclusions of which are still awaited, stresses that “it is clear that from the start of his first term, (former) President Zuma was ready to do whatever the Gupta wanted him to do for them”.
Cyril Ramaphosa, who succeeded the disgraced Zuma, has vowed to stamp out corruption. Repatriating the Gupta would be a brilliant way to honor that promise. But the head of state is himself in turmoil.
A lawsuit filed last week claims that President Ramaphosa, who has a large personal fortune, concealed a 2020 burglary at one of his properties from police and tax authorities.
The thieves had found on the spot, hidden in furniture, wads of banknotes in the amount of 3.8 million euros, according to this complaint. The former head of South African intelligence, Arthur Fraser, author of this complaint, also argues that the president would then have “paid” the burglars “for their silence”.
Mr. Ramaphosa assures that he has never stolen money from anyone, that the amounts advanced are very exaggerated and denounces the “political agenda” of his opponents, according to him at the maneuver.
This affair, however, embarrasses the president when the ANC must decide by December whether or not to maintain him for a second term, during the presidential election of 2024.