Family lawyer Gert van der Merwe said: “We have no problem with a legal gathering outside the property. But if it is illegal and my clients feel threatened by it, we will be back in court.”
Last Friday evening the Guptas turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, after protesters gathered outside the family property following countrywide marches against President Jacob Zuma.
Police used stun grenades and teargas to disperse the crowd, which triggered the Gupta family’s urgent court application.
However, a notice that circulated on social media calling on people to gather “at the Gupta’s pavement at No 1 Saxonwold” the following day was the final straw for the family.
In a late-night application, which ended after midnight, the family asked for an “extremely” urgent interdict against any illegal gathering outside the compound. They asked that the sheriff or any law enforcement agencies be called in to disperse such a gathering.
The matter stood down until the Saturday, but when it appeared that nobody was gathering outside the property, advocate Francois Botes, for the Guptas, withdrew the application.
In papers before the court, Gupta relative Ashu Chawla said the family, especially the Gupta brothers, had been associated with “state of capture” by virtue of their relationship with Zuma.
“None of these allegations has ever been proved, nor has it been put before any party in criminal proceedings. The parties have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty,” he said.
In his affidavit it was stated that 21 individuals live in the compound, including five women and six children. The youngest is about 20 days old.
“The court will note that many of the individuals living at this premises are not a party to the so-called ‘State Capture’.” The media seemed to think the occupants of the compound were just the Gupta brothers and various companies.
Chawla said that for the past couple of days they had noticed the media and public gathering around the premises. “Initially, we felt that it was only necessary to employ extra security and leave matters at that.”
But matters escalated to a point that police had to be called in. He said things came to a head when people were invited on social media to gather outside the house on the Saturday.
Chawla said the residents of the compound had a right to be safe and not be subjected to threats of violence. “To subject women and young children to this type of violence and arouse much anxiety,” he said.
Van der Merwe made it clear that if need be, they would bring a fresh application based on new court papers.