Cape Town - Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola says the Independent Directorate of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is busy finalising the extradition request for the Gupta brothers, Atul and Rajesh, to come face the law in South Africa.
In a reply to a parliamentary question, Lamola said the extradition request will still be translated into Arabic before it is sent to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) via diplomatic channels.
He revealed this when responding to parliamentary questions from DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach, who asked the current position regarding the extradition of the Gupta brothers after their arrest in Dubai.
Breytenbach also enquired whether the extradition treaty with the UAE has been finalised.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services confirmed it received information from law enforcement authorities in the UAE that Rajesh and Atul Gupta had been arrested.
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 Mr Atul Kumar Gupta and Mr Rajesh Kumar Gupta will be made to the UAE in terms of the Extradition Treaty,” he said.
Lamola also said the UAE authorities informed him on June 6 that the two brothers have been arrested on the Red Notices issued by Interpol.
He also 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.”
Lamola’s response comes almost a week after 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 has said extradition processes were complex and each has its peculiar dynamics depending on the country involved.
“Expert prosecutors in the NPA have been dealing with extradition cases for many years. The NPA leadership has full confidence in its team of experienced and highly skilled prosecutors working on the legal aspects of the Gupta extradition process,” Mhaga said.
He had said that 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.
The NPA has stated that it would not be commenting on the “legal dimensions” of the case at this early stage and that it welcomed constructive criticism.
“However, recent irresponsible reports about the NPA’s apparent poor handling of the process, or failing to respond to UAE requests, are not accurate, and should be dismissed as dangerous speculation, or politically and personally motivated attacks to undermine the NPA and its leadership during this process.”