Johannesburg - The Hawks have issued a stern warning to the bodyguards of Ajay Gupta not to protect him as they could face arrest for defeating the ends of justice.
Ajay, who is said to be on the run, is wanted in connection with corruption charges emanating from investigations into the Vrede Dairy Farm Project in the Free State and has been declared a “fugitive from justice”.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said outside the Bloemfontein Regional Court on Thursday that the eldest Gupta brother had failed to hand himself over to the police as agreed and was now considered a fugitive.
“We are looking for Ajay. We are not negotiating with him. We contacted his lawyers yesterday (Wednesday),” said Mulaudzi after seven of the eight people facing numerous charges relating to alleged multimillion-rand financial transactions at the dairy farm were granted bail.
“We were expecting them to hand him over there is going to be a search party looking for Ajay. There is a warrant for his arrest and we want to make sure he is behind bars as soon as possible.
“We know he has bodyguards and we would like to warn those protecting him that they could be facing arrest for protecting a fugitive,” said Mulaudzi, adding that more arrests were imminent.
Atul Gupta, whose attempt to flee South Africa was foiled on Wednesday, was also not in court. It was believed that he was still in the process of handing himself over. Mulaudzi declined to comment on Atul’s pending arrest.
He would also not say whether former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, whose Saxonwold mansion was also raided on Wednesday, was among those they were targeting.
The seven accused that appeared yesterday were granted bail ranging from R10 000 to R200 000 and were ordered to surrender their passports and abide by the reporting conditions to police that they were given.
The Free State Agriculture and Rural Development head Mbana Peter Thabethe, who is accused number one, as well as his chief financial officer, Sylvia Seipati Dlamini, and former general manager District Services for the department, Dr Takisi Janki Masiteng, were each granted bail of R10000.
Former Oakbay chief executive Nazeem Howa and Sahara Computers boss Ashu Chawla, two former Oakbay directors Varun Gupta as well as Tegeta Resources director Ronica Ragavan were each granted R200 000 bail.
Also read: Hawks hunt Duduzane in wake of #GuptaArrests
The accused are facing charges of corruption, theft, fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and contravening the Public Finance Management Act.
They each pleaded through their lawyers who read their affidavits that they were willing to co-operate with the police during investigations and had no intentions of absconding as they were known people in society with respectable professions and families to look after.
Estina is cited as the fourth accused in the matter while Oakbay and Aerohaven are accused six and 11 respectively.
The State did not oppose bail, saying the accused had co-operated with the police during initial investigations and that it would not be in the interest of justice to continue holding them in custody.
“The accused are standing trial on very serious charges,” said prosecutor Bulelwa Vimbani, adding that they had a strong case against the accused.
The State also indicated that the accused were facing schedule five offences and would stand trial over a long period of time, making it unjust to deny them bail.
Accused number five, Kamal Vasram, a former director in the Gupta-owned businesses, was denied bail as police had not verified all of his details. His case was postponed to Monday.