Picture : Anesh Debiky/ KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union
Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union has severed ties with the controversial Gupta-owned Sahara Computers, which held naming rights to Sahara Kingsmead Stadium, just 18 months before the contract was to expire.

On Wednesday, the chief executive of the KZN Cricket Union, Heinrich Strydom, said the 13-year relationship between the two entities was ended by mutual agreement.

This means that the name of the stadium will revert to Kings­mead Stadium while the cricket union looks for a new sponsor, Strydom explained.

“We will now embark on the process of getting a new sponsor with naming rights. I do not see any issues we might have in getting a sponsor,” he said.

Asked about the reasons for the termination of the relationship, Strydom emphasised that both ­parties had agreed to part ways ­amicably.

“There have been stories in the news, and both parties agreed to mutually terminate the contract. From a reputational aspect, as well, we felt that it was best to part,” he said.

Attempts to get comment from Sahara Computers failed. A number listed for the company in Durban is now being used by ­another company.

In a statement, KZN Cricket president Fa-eez Jaffer thanked ­Sahara for its support of cricket in the province.

“They have assisted us in keeping Kingsmead as one of the most prestigious cricket grounds in the country,” he said.

The company, like other Gupta-owned companies, has suffered reputational damage in the recent past after the allegedly corrupt ­activities of the Gupta family were laid bare in a tranche of leaked e-mails and probes.

The company’s chief executive, Ashu Chawla, emerged as the Guptas’ chief lieutenant who allegedly executed some of the corrupt dealings on behalf of the Guptas.

In some of the Gupta Leaks e-mails, it emerged that Sahara Computers was allegedly used to hire an alleged girlfriend of Anoj Singh, a former Eskom executive, in exchange for favours from him.

South African firms and banks have since distanced themselves from some of the Gupta companies, resulting in some of them being placed under business rescue.

One of the business rescue practitioners in charge of the Gupta companies, Louis Klopper, said ­Sahara Computers was never part of business rescue.

Earlier this year, reports emerged that the Guptas had allegedly abandoned Sahara Computers, leaving the premises unoccupied.

Meanwhile, it emerged that at least one of the Gupta brothers, Ajay, is in Dubai.

A South African, Justin van ­Pletzen, confronted Ajay outside an office complex in Dubai. Ajay was accompanied by a bodyguard and was allegedly driving a black Mercedes Maybach.

In the video that Van Pletzen posted the video ­on his Facebook page, which has since gone viral, he tells Ajay that the country [South Africa] is looking for him, and asks when he intends returning to the country. Ajay responds: “The day they give a reply, I’ll go there.”

It is believed Ajay was talking about a response his lawyers are awaiting following representations made to the country’s law enforcement agencies.

The Mercury understands that included in the representations was a request for the warrant of arrest.

Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said the crime-busting unit was “very much aware of their movements and the arrogance that has been shown”.

He added that Ajay was still a fugitive and that it will be the decision of the investigators to pursue him at this stage or not.

The Mercury