Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

Justice Dept still waiting for update from UAE authorities on Guptas’ extradition request

Minister Ronald Lamola says he's concerned there has not been an update from UAE authorities on the Gupta brothers' extradition application.

Almost 10 months since alleged state capture kingpins Atul and Rajesh Gupta were arrested in Dubai, the South African government says it’s still waiting for an update from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the status of its extradition application.

Gupta brothers’ arrest

The state capture fugitives were arrested in Dubai in June last year, four months after Interpol issued a red notice for them in connection with fraud and money laundering charges in South Africa.

ALSO READ: JCS confirms Gupta brothers’ arrest in Dubai

Since then, there have been questions raised on the Department of Justice and Correctional Services‘ extradition application for the Gupta brothers to be brought back to the country to answer to allegations of state capture and wide-scale corruption levelled against them.

Late last year, the justice department said Atul and Rajesh remained in police custody after their bid to be released on bail was declined by UAE prosecution authorities.

The department also said a date had not been set for the extradition hearing due to further particulars requested by UAE authorities pertaining to domestic laws of the country. The department said it had complied with the request for further information.

Lamola ‘concerned’ about delays

In a terse statement on Thursday, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said he was concerned that there had not been an update on the first court appearance of the Gupta brothers in the UAE to determine whether there will be a hearing on the application for extradition.

This follows a visit by the South African Central Authority to the country to ensure that the extradition application meets the requirements of the UAE authorities.

The Central Authority facilitates the implementation and operation of an international treaty in public and private international law, this includes receiving and processing requests for extradition and mutual legal assistance.

“To date, the Central Authority has made various enquiries, the latest request is an urgent meeting between the two central authorities and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and his counterpart in the United Arab Emirates,” said the department’s spokesperson Chrispin Phiri.

Phiri added that the department is pursuing this matter via diplomatic channels in accordance with the extradition treaty between the two countries.

R24.9m Nulane corruption trial

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the Gupta brother’s arrest was in connection with the R24.9 million Nulane Investment matter.

The matter pertains to procurement fraud involving R24.9 million paid between November 2011 and April 2012 by the Free State Department of Agriculture to Nulane Investments, a company owned and controlled by Gupta associate, Iqbal Sharma.

READ: High court dismisses bid for further info in R24.9m Gupta-linked Nulane Investments case

From there the funds were allegedly diverted to Islandsite Investments, which belongs to Atul and Rajesh Gupta and their wives Chetali and Arti Gupta.

The case is one of the first state capture-related matters to be brought before the courts, and the state’s case suffered a blow in February at the Free State High Court.

Discharge applications

Five of the accused in the matter applied for discharge applications in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act, arguing that the state doesn’t have a case against them.

This after Acting Judge Nompumelelo Gusha ruled that most of the state’s documentary evidence, which is disputed by the accused, was inadmissible in court.

The six accused in the trial are Sharma, former head of the Free State department of rural development Peter Thabethe, former head of the Free State department of agriculture Limakatso Moorosi, former provincial agriculture CFO Seipati Dhlamini, Sharma’s brother-in-law and a representative of Nulane Dinesh Patel, Islandsite director Ronica Ragavan; and Nulane Investments and Islandsite as entities.

Judge Gusha is expected to rule on the discharge applications on 21 April.

NOW READ: The Nulane trial: Here’s what you need to know about the Guptas’ first criminal case

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