Their destinies are irremediably linked. While Jacob Zuma probably lives his last moments at the head of the Republic of South Africa , the powerful Gupta brothers, at the heart of the scandal of “capture of the State” that precipitated the fall of the head of state, take the road to the prison.
On Wednesday, February 14 at dawn, the elite police unit , the Hawks, arrested three people at the residence of the Gupta Saxonwold, their headquarters located in a posh Johannesburg suburb. “Two other suspects should soon make for themselves,” said the spokesman Hawks Mangwani Mulaudzi.
The identity of the five suspects has not yet been revealed, and will be confirmed Thursday when they appear before the judge, the court of Bloemfontein ( center ). But already, the local media speculate on the presence of at least one of the three Gupta brothers, Ajay.
These early, long awaited arrests are just the beginning of the end for the Gupta, the most despised family in South Africa. “We still have much to do . Other operations will be launched. A Saxonwold we finished, so we will go to other places to be sure everything finalized,” said Mr. Mulaudzi. Ashok Nayaran, a close associate of the siblings, and Peter Thabete, a member of the administration, were also arrested on Wednesday.
The Gupta are at the heart of a saga that holds South Africa in suspense since 2013, and has turned into the biggest political and financial scandal since the end of apartheid. This family from India is accused of having infiltrated the summit of the South African state thanks to their friendship with Jacob Zuma. Influence on the choices of ministers, pressure to pocket public contracts, bribes: the ramifications of their hold on the head of state have outraged the South African public, the media, and now justice .
In 1993, the discreet arrival of the Gupta brothers gave birth to a success story of South Africa freed from Nelson Mandela . Part of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh from which they come from the local bourgeoisie, they open a small shop for assembling and selling computers in the suburbs of Johannesburg, at a time when the general public is starting to computer.
In their twenties, they have built a financial empire that employs more than 4,000 people and covers coal, uranium, media and air transport . Atul, the youngest brother, who started his life selling shoes at Indian flea markets, was the seventh fortune in South Africa in 2016, weighing 6.6 billion euros.
Sulfurous relationship with “Zupta”
A success in business that goes hand in hand with a certain political flair . From the 1990s, they bet on the good “horse”, Jacob Zuma, at the moment when no one predicted a presidential destiny. Their sulphurous relationship – since dubbed “Zupta” by the South African media – comes to light in 2013 when a plane carrying 200 guests for a marriage organized by the siblings lands at the Waterkloof military base, without anyone knowing who gave permission.
At the end of 2016, an explosive report by the anti-corruption mediator Thuli Madonsela – that Jacob Zuma will try by all means to ban – pushes the nail. In particular, it shows how their luxurious Saxonwold property serves as a presidential branch, where the Gupta gauge potential ministers, meet with presidents of public companies , and pass on cash bags.
In mid-2017, leaks of “Guptaleaks”, hundreds of thousands of e-mails straight out of one of their many companies , offer a string of material evidence of their misdeeds. Despite this, justice has taken its time until now. But since the election of a new leadership at the head of the ANC, events are accelerating. In January, Jacob Zuma was forced to appoint a commission of inquiry into the “capture of the state”, and a prosecutor ordered the freezing of part of their assets. “Less than two months after Cyril Ramaphosa became president of the ANC, it seems that the rule of law is working again in South Africa” ,
According to the Hawks on Wednesday police operation is linked to a folder in which Gupta are suspected of having fraudulently received public funds from the province of Free State (central Somalia) for a proposed dairy farm . A curious return to the sources: it is by this montage that the Gupta would have paid the equivalent of 30 million rands of expenses for the marriage of 2013, starting point of the saga. A very small sum compared to what they are suspected of having hijacked. Their legal troubles are therefore gone to last .
Source: The Monde.fr