Atul and Ajay Gupta. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The United States Treasury on Thursday announced that it had sanctioned the Gupta brothers and their associate Salim Essa from conducting business in the country.  

Taking to Twitter to react to the news, most South Africans appeared to celebrate the news as a welcome measure, while there were some who jumped to the defence of the Gupta brothers, arguing they had not been found guilty by a court of law. 

The Gupta brothers - which consist of Atul, Ajay and Tony Gupta, are accused of grand scale state corruption during the presidency of former president Jacob Zuma. They are accused of using their close relationship with the former president to profit financially and influence senior government appointments.  

The Guptas now reside in the United Arab Emirates after leaving the country when Zuma was removed as state president two years ago. 

"The Gupta family leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets," said the US Treasury in a statement on Thursday.  

"We will continue to exclude from the US financial system those who profit from corruption." 

In a separate statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "As a result of today's actions, any property, or interest in property, of those designated within US jurisdiction is blocked," 

"The United States strongly supports ongoing efforts by the Government of South Africa, including its independent judiciary, judicial commissions of inquiry, and law enforcement agencies, to investigate and prosecute alleged instances of corruption," Pompeo said. 

Reacting to the news, South Africans appeared to be overwhelmingly in support of the US sanctions, with some bemoaning the NPA’s failure to act, but there were a few who appeared to come to the defence of the controversial family. 

SUPPORT FOR SANCTIONS

SUPPORT FOR GUPTAS