Down the Gupta rabbit hole: What became of the family’s ‘economic investments’ in SA?

The Guptas claim to have invested R10 billion in SA's economy. Where is it now?

Down the Gupta rabbit hole: A series on how the Gupta brothers have managed to dodge the law and sustain a life of luxury over the last seven years.

According to some reports, the Gupta brothers, Atul and Rajesh, are supposedly in Switzerland living their best life.

Good ol’ Switzerland, where they – together with former Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and dodgy Kolkata businessman, Parasmal Lodha‚ who was arrested for money laundering in Mumbai – travelled to in 2015 on a private jet, on “business”.

South Africans have watched helplessly as the Guptas continue to thrive after looting billions from the country. Do they feel nothing for it? Apparently not.

In most interviews with Atul and Rajesh Gupta, the brothers maintain their innocence.


They believe they haven’t done much wrong and have been prejudiced by the South African media and juducuary. They also believe they gave so much to the South African economy during their heydays.

This begs the question: What did the Guptas actually really do for South Africa?

Was their investment in the country so substantial for former president Jacob Zuma to favour them as much as he did?

How much did the Guptas actually invest and how much of that investment is still bearing fruit today?

What have they done for South Africa?

It was once reported by the Guptas that their family employed around 4 500 people in South Africa and invested R10 billion in over 15 companies – and paid much more in tax.

I went back to the very beginning to see what that R10 billion has translated to.

An infographic outlining the Gupta’s companies in each sector. By Devina Haripersad

Sahara Computers

The Gupta brothers arrived in South Africa in the early to late 90s from Saharanpur, India, and founded a company called Sahara Computers.

By then, South Africans were very familiar with the Indian conglomerate, Sahara India Pariwar, which sponsored the Indian cricket team.

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Incidentally, however, the Guptas had no affiliation with the conglomerate, claiming to simply be naming their company after their home town.

In a clever attempt to align themselves with the reputed brand, the company became the sponsor of the Kingsmead Stadium in Durban, where cricket matches were played.

The Gupta logo on the left and the Indian company on the right.

Sahara Computers was based in Midrand, Johannesburg, and the company had around 500 employees.

The Guptas started Sahara Computers with just R1.2 million and by 2016, reported R1.1 billion in revenue. Some of their key clients were JDG, Edcon, Shoprite, Pick n Pay, and the Lewis Group. 

But the company quietly closed down in 2018, after all the controversy around the Guptas’ relationship with Zuma.

Then, in 2021, the South African Reserve Bank seized R19.669 million from the Nedbank account of Sahara Computers.

While around 500 people enjoyed employment for roughly 21 years, it was hardly a significant investment.

Oakbay Investments

During their time in SA, while Sahara Computers was gaining momentum, the Guptas established a parent company called Oakbay Investments – the offices of which were based on Katherine Street in Sandton’s CBD.

Image: Twitter/Oakbay Group

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The company was said to have focused on private equity investments and joint ventures.

It was through Oakbay Investments that the Guptas found a way to get their tentacles into South Africa’s mining, engineering, media, investment, leisure, and real estate sectors


Oakbay Resources & Energy

Established in 2009, the company mined and explored for uranium and gold deposits.

It also mined and supplied thermal coal. Between November 2014 and June 2017, it was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

It owns Shiva Uranium mine and employed around 1 000 to 5 000 people. The company borrowed R287 million in loans during that time.

In 2017, the company announced a loss of almost R1 billion. This was because of a reduction in the value of their Shiva Uranium mine by R880 million due to low prices for uranium and a decrease in gold production.

The company was delisted from the JSE on 10 July 2017 and went into business rescue.

Tegeta Exploration & Resources

Unlike the other eight Gupta-owned businesses under the Oakbay umbrella, Tegeta Exploration and Resources, and its three wholly-owned subsidiaries – Optimum Coal Mine, Koornfontein Mines and Optimum Coal Terminal – were not placed under business rescue.

Founded in 2006, the businesses operated in the oil and gas sector. According to, the businesses are still active.

But no one can really consider Tegeta an investment by the Guptas… according to reports the entire acquisition of Optimum Coal was a result of the proceeds of crime.

The purchase of Optimum Coal Holdings by Tegeta Exploration and Resources, facilitated by Eskom, was a significant catalyst for the establishment of the Zondo Commission. The ‘State of Capture‘ report published by the Public Protector in October 2016 put a spotlight on this very acquisition.

Also, executives from the mines were accused of taking R1.75 billion from funds that were meant to clean up and fix old mines in Mpumalanga.

They have seen been charged and appeared in court.

The company may still be active but the NPA lodged an application seeking a preservation order for the attachment of all of Tegeta’s shares in Optimum Coal Mine and Optimum Coal Terminal.

ALSO READ: Two Gupta associates plead not guilty in R37.7m Estina tax fraud trial

Westdawn Investments Ltd

Westdawn Investments was also founded in 2006 and was located in Rustenburg. The enterprise’s line of business includes the mining, quarrying, milling and preparing of non-metallic minerals.

The company went into liquidation in 2018 and was in debt of almost R60 million. During that time, 800 employees lost their jobs.

Black Edge Exploration

There is little to no information on Black Edge Exploration out there. All we know for now is the company was registered in 2008, with Gupta associate Ashu Chawla as the director.

Black Edge Exploration has since been deregistered due to annual return non-compliance.

Aforika Borwa Mining Solution

It was registered in August 2014 and then deregistered also due to annual return non-compliance.

The Parliamentary Monitoring Group reported that Aforika Borwa Mining Solutions had a staff complement of 1 200, which constituted 800 foreign nationals on valid corporate worker authorisation certificates.

The 800 foreign nationals performed mining services at Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mine on behalf of Westdawn Investments.

When the contract between the entities ended, the company intended to retrench the employees linked to this contract.

However, a court order saw the Aforika Borwa Mining Solutions employees transferred to the new service provider, Reagetswe Mining Services.


VR Laser Services

Image: Yep Business Directory.

VR Laser Services made up one of the eight Gupta companies which was placed under business rescue in 2018.

At the time, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) brought an urgent application against VR Laser Services, the two business rescue practitioners and other respondents including the Bank of Baroda and Sars, to prevent the sale of assets of VR Laser Services. The application failed.


New Age Media

The New Age boldly stated when it was launched in 2010 that it would “specifically present a positive image of the South African ruling political party”, the ANC.

The paper’s last publication went out on 29 June 2018.

Infinity Media

Operating as ANN7, Infinity Media was established in 2013. The channel went off the air in 2018, after MultiChoice decided not to renew its contract when allegations of corruption extended to MultiChoice.

MultiChoice, which was under investigation by South Africa’s broadcast regulator Icasa, disclosed the findings of its own internal investigation.

The company admitted to making errors but stated that its decisions were neither corrupt nor illegal.

Real Estate and investments

Islandsite Investments 180

Founded in 2002, the company’s line of business included underwriting financial responsibility insurance.

This company too was placed on business rescue in 2018. Islandsite 180 belonged to Atul and Rajesh Gupta and their wives, Chetali and Arti Gupta.

Confident Concepts (Pty) Ltd

This company was registered in 2006 and is still currently in business rescue.

Confident Concepts possessed an extensive collection of Gupta-owned properties, which encompassed the properties located near the family’s Saxonwold residence.

Because of this, the directors of the company tried to bring in an application against the restraint application brought by the Investigating Directorate. But this was dismissed in 2022.

All in all

It seems as though everything the Guptas touched turned to dust or still has a cloud of corruption hanging over it.

Also, the money allegedly looted and gained in corrupt ways far exceeds the supposed R10 billion they invested into the economy.

Yes, they created job opportunities but they took them away as well. The Guptas are too far down the rabbit hole to be redeemed.

Read more on these topics

Gupta family Guptas State Capture

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