JOHANNESBURG. – The central players in the state capture project – the Gupta brothers and Duduzane Zuma – are out of the country.
Travel records obtained by City Press’ sister newspaper, Rapport, show Duduzane left the country on January 18 on an Emirates flight to Dubai, where he owns a R17 million flat the Guptas allegedly bought for him, according to the #GuptaLeaks.
The same travel records show that eldest Gupta brother Ajay left South Africa on February 6 on a flight to Dubai and has not returned on either his Indian or South African passports.
Last Tuesday, Rapport took a photograph of him climbing out of a helicopter at the family’s Optimum coal mine in Mpumalanga. His travel records show that he had landed in the country earlier that day and, hours after he was photographed, left the country again on an Emirates flight.
Duduzane Zuma left just days before the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) sent him a letter asking him to supply them with reasons as to why he should not be prosecuted for culpable homicide.
The charge relates to the death of Phumzile Dube on the M1 highway in Sandton, Johannesburg, in February 2014. His Porsche crashed into the minibus she was travelling in. After an inquest, the NPA decided that Duduzane should not be prosecuted in connection with her death, but that has since changed.
Last year, advocate Gerrie Nel, head of civil rights group AfriForum’s private prosecuting unit, applied for a certificate of non-prosecution on behalf of the Dube family, so that they could pursue a private prosecution.
National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams has since done an about-turn and informed AfriForum this week that he is reviewing his decision.
In a letter Abrahams sent to Zuma on February 2, he asks him to supply reasons he should not be prosecuted and to send them to him by the end of March. AfriForum head Kallie Kriel says they are overjoyed at the decision.
“This is a victory for the Dube family, Gerrie Nel and AfriForum, but also for everyone in the country who is fed up that former president Jacob Zuma, his friends and his family have managed to duck prosecution because of the protection that the NPA offered them,” he said.
A senior NPA official told City Press this week that former president Jacob Zuma is in the NPA’s firing line. A decision to prosecute him is expected to be reached by Friday.
“He will definitely be charged and no one will protect him. He is vulnerable and he won’t survive all the charges. He has messed up big time,” the official said.
The Gupta family’s power was officially broken this week as the Hawks raided several of their properties, including their sprawling compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg. But the Guptas had long gone and Ajay Gupta has officially been confirmed to be a fugitive.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi would not confirm the other suspects they were looking for by name, saying only they were “looking for two suspects of Indian descent who are definitely abroad”. However, other sources within the unit confirmed they want to take Atul and Rajesh in for questioning.
The Times of India reported that Ajay and Atul Gupta attended a Hindu ceremony in their hometown of Saharanpur, India, on Wednesday. Subsequently, sources in India told Rapport that Ajay and youngest brother Rajesh are expected to attend a wedding in India this weekend.
According to the Hawks, Ajay Gupta’s lawyer, Ahmed Gani, made an agreement to have him in the dock of the Bloemfontein Commercial Crimes Court on Thursday, but he didn’t pitch up. Gani declined to comment.
Also not in court were Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, who loom large in the draft indictment against the Gupta family’s employees, who appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
City Press has learnt from a senior source in the security cluster that “no politicians are targets” in the Vrede dairy farm investigation. However, another senior source close to the probe hinted that they may be in the Hawks’ sights after all.
“Any arrest of any politicians will take place during phase two of the investigation. We are just tying up some loose ends,” he said.
One of the accused is Seipati Dhlamini, Zwane’s current chief of staff, who was chief financial officer of the Free State agriculture department at the time it was looted and when Zwane was its MEC.
The draft indictment provides insight into Zwane’s involvement in the project, as well as that of his former boss and Free State premier Magashule.
“The idea for the [dairy] concept … was that of the MEC of the Free State at the time, Mr Mosebenzi Zwane,” the document states.
“On June 15 2012, the MEC for agriculture contacted the MEC for finance to request that an urgent payment of R30 million be made to [Gupta-owned company] Estina and that the provincial treasury expedite the payment on the same day. This payment of R30 million was made at the time when the provincial treasury did not have the required amount available and there were concerns about the signed contract.
“The contract between Estina and the Free State department of agriculture was referred to the legal services in the office of the premier in the Free State for advice and, on June 19 2012, it was stated that the procurement process was not followed and that therefore the contract may be invalid.”
The project went ahead regardless. The eight accused in the dock are former and current chief executives of Gupta-owned companies, including Oakbay boss Ronica Ragavan, her predecessor Nazeem Howa and Ashu Chawla.
Since the Hawks confirmed that Ajay is a fugitive, the Hawks have been inundated with calls from the public, said Mulaudzi. Since yesterday, there have been rewards offered of R1.8 million for anyone who could apprehend the Guptas. – City Press