Cape Town - The Justice Department and Department of International Relations and Co-operation should facilitate without further delay the translating into Arabic of the official extradition request of the Gupta brothers, the DA said on Thursday.
The party said a failure to do so could result in the derailment of the Gupta’s extradition from the United Arab Emirates to South Africa to face the law in the country.
“The crimes the Guptas stand accused of are not trivial.
“South Africa suffers daily from the results of the widespread corruption and state capture,” DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said.
“It is of utmost importance that the Guptas stand trial and government ineptitude must not stand in the way of justice,” Breytenbach said.
She made the comments after the Cape Times reported that Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said the Independent Directorate of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was busy finalising the extradition request for the Gupta brothers, Atul and Rajesh.
In a reply to a parliamentary question from Breytenbach, Lamola said the extradition request will still be translated into Arabic before it is sent to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) via diplomatic channels.
Breytenbach asked what the current position regarding the extradition of the Gupta brothers after their arrest in Dubai.
The pair were arrested in connection with the charges related to procurement fraud involving R24.9 million paid between November 2011 and April 2012 by the Free State Department of Agriculture to a company called Nulane Investments 204.
It said at the time discussions between various law enforcement agencies in the UAE and South Africa on the way forward were ongoing.
In his written response, Lamola confirmed that South Africa and the UAE concluded an Extradition Treaty in September 2018 and it came into force in July 2021.
“The request for the extradition of Atul Kumar Gupta and Rajesh Kumar Gupta will be made to the UAE in terms of the Extradition Treaty,” he said.
Lamola said the UAE authorities informed him on June 6 that the two brothers were arrested on the Red Notices issued by Interpol.
He said the NPA forwarded a request to the department for the provisional arrest of the suspects in terms of the Extradition Treaty on June 8.
“The request containing the charge sheet and warrants of arrest for the suspects was forwarded to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) for onward transmission to the authorities in the UAE.”
Lamola said the department was advised that the Investigating Directorate in the NPA was finalising the official extradition request on June 10.
He said the extradition request “will be translated into Arabic, and thereafter forwarded to the department for onward transmission to the authorities in the UAE via the diplomatic channel.”
Breytenbach said her party would write to Lamola and the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor to ask that the translation of the official extradition request of the Guptas into Arabic be done as a matter of urgency.
“South Africa only has 60 days from the Guptas’ arrest on June 2, 2022 to submit the formal extradition application as per the country’s extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates,” she said.
Last week the NPA said it had full confidence in its team of prosecutors working on the legal aspects of the Gupta extradition process.
NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said extradition processes were complex and each had its peculiar dynamics depending on the country involved.
Mhaga said in terms of the extradition treaty between South Africa and the UAE, South Africa had 60 days from the date of arrest to submit the formal extradition application.
“The NPA is on track to finalise this process, in close consultation with relevant authorities in the UAE and Interpol as required, acting in full compliance with domestic and international legal obligations relating to extradition.
“The diplomatic and political aspects are being dealt with in parallel by our colleagues in the ministry, Department of Justice and Department of International Relations and Co-operation,” Mhaga said.