The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has welcomed the recent measures taken by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to hold the controversial Gupta family and their business associates accountable for allegations of state capture and wide-scale corruption.
This follows the arrests of Gupta linked businessman Iqbal Sharma and his co-accused last week in connection with the failed R288 million Estina dairy project in Vrede, Free State.
Sharma and the former head of the Free State agriculture department, Peter Thabethe, are expected to return to the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Monday for their bail hearing.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation says the measures undertaken by the NPA and its Investigative Directorate (ID) are a step in the right direction but long overdue.
“We hope that this will be the first of several other charges in relation to the litany of allegations of corruption and state capture faced by the Guptas and their business network,” said the foundation’s executive director, Neeshan Balton, said in a statement.
The ID announced last week that it had applied to Interpol to assist with arrest warrants for, among others, Atul Gupta, wife Chetali, Rajesh Gupta and his wife, Arti. The ID also seized assets worth more than R520 million belonging to the family.
Balton urged United Arab Emirates, where the Guptas are currently living, to co-operate with the South African government to ensure that their extradition is effected speedily.
“These are encouraging signs and now with Interpol being asked to circulate an arrest warrant, there hopefully will be greater international co-operation in the matter,” he said.
“The fact that Guptas, as well as their close business associate, Salim Essa, are sitting pretty in Dubai should be strong motivation to prevent Sharma from obtaining bail and potentially fleeing the country.”
Balton said that this case should pave the way for the state to further recoup public funds it lost to alleged corruption and state capture involving the Guptas over the years.
He also warned that state capture would not be put to an end by one family and their associates being charged.
“The template for capture has been modified and replicated at different levels of government. While the state has concentrated on cleaning up and tightening loopholes at state-owned enterprises, we have ignored the rampant looting within several provinces and municipalities, which warrant on-going investigation,” he said.