Police Raid Gupta Family’s Home in South Africa
The Gupta family is accused of exploiting its close ties with South African president Jacob Zuma for undue gains.
An elite unit of South African police raided the home of the influential Gupta brothers, the Indian-origin businessmen friends of South African President Jacob Zuma on Feb.14, during an investigation into allegations that the family used their links with the president to win state contracts and Cabinet appointments.
The raid, which marks an escalation of pressure on Zuma, resulted in three arrests. A dozen officers cordoned off the streets leading to the Gupta house in Johannesburg’s upscale Saxonworld suburb. Police also raided the Guptas’ Oakbay holding company in Johannesburg’s Sandton financial district, Reuters reported citing a security guard stationed outside the building.
The raids comes at a time when country is waiting to see if Zuma steps down after being asked to do so by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.
The Gupta family, central to allegations levelled against Zuma, is said to have had access to sensitive state information and government contracts, and played a role in hiring and firing of Cabinet ministers.
Zuma and the Guptas deny any wrongdoing, and the family’s lawyer said he cannot comment on the raid as he is yet to see a search warrant, according to reports.
The spokesperson of Hawks, South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, Hangwani Mulaudzi asserted they are not “playing around” as the raid is a part of investigation into influence peddling and corruption in the government, the reports said. “We’re viewing this investigation in a very serious light. We’re not playing around in terms of making sure that those who are responsible in the so-called state capture, they take responsibility for it,” he said, the reports added.
Mulaudzi declined to comment further, saying a full statement would be released later. “Finally something is being done about it. These guys must get out of our country. They must leave us alone. They have done enough damage,” Tessa Turvey, the head of the local residents’ association, told the media about the Gupta family who were accused by local publications for “state capture.”
The Guptas have a range of business interests in South Africa, including computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology and media. The three brothers — Atul, Rajesh and Ajay — came to the country in 1993. Zuma’s son, daughter and one of his wives have worked for the Gupta family’s firms.
Zuma was expected to respond on Feb.14 morning to the ruling ANC order asking him to step down as head of state.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had said Zuma would speak at 0800 GMT on Feb. 14. While journalists and satellite trucks were in position at Pretoria’s Union Buildings, the seat of the government, Zuma’s office denied any “official communication” of an impending address.
The ANC had on Feb.13 asked Zuma to step down. The president is also facing a no-confidence motion moved by the opposition in parliament, set for Feb. 22. If Zuma refuses to resign, the ANC is expected to back the no-confidence motion, even though the entire Cabinet will have to resign if it is passed.