Johannesburg - The hunt is on for Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane after the Hawks swooped on his Saxonwold mansion on Wednesday in a pre-dawn raid, but couldn't find him.
Duduzane is being sought for his alleged role in the fraud scandal at the Estina dairy farm at Vrede in the Free State, which saw politicians and businesspeople pocketing millions from the project earmarked for emerging black farmers.
This is according to sources within the security cluster.
“We have been told Mr X (Duduzane) is on the warrants obtained, but he has not been located as yet,” said the source, who was reluctant to call Duduzane by his name.
One of Duduzane’s alleged accomplices in the Gupta family, Atul, apparently tried to evade arrest by skipping the country, but his attempt to flee was foiled when the pilot refused to fly the private jet at Lanseria Airport.
"The information we have is that Atul may have tried to flee the country this morning (yesterday), but the pilot refused to take off,” another source said.
Atul and Ajay - the eldest of the three Gupta brothers - were negotiating to hand themselves over to the elite crime-fighting unit.
The Star understands that Atul's younger brother Tony - also known as Rajesh - was arrested during the dramatic raid on the family's Saxonwold compound.
“Tony is in (custody). Atul is negotiating to come in through his attorneys,” said the source, adding that an unidentified business associate of the Guptas was also nabbed.
They were among the five people arrested in connection with the Estina scandal.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said: “Two (arrests) were made there (at the Gupta homestead), one in Gauteng and two in the Free State. More arrests are expected.”
The suspects face charges of fraud, money laundering and corruption, he added.
Among those arrested in the Free State is the provincial head of department for agriculture, Peter Thabethe.
Duduzane's property is located about two blocks from the Guptas' compound.
Duduzane is a director of one of the Guptas' companies, Westdawn Investments, which also allegedly siphoned funds from the farm project.
Duduzane’s attorney Gary Mazaham would not comment on the matter.
The Guptas' lawyer Ahmed Gani denied that any of the Gupta brothers were arrested at their Saxonwold home.
“It’s speculation, that’s what it is.” But he did concede that two arrests were made at the homestead.
The Gupta brothers allegedly pocketed R220m from the Free State provincial government, which had been pumped into the dairy farm and allocated to benefit emerging black farmers.
The National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit has revealed that only R2m was spent on the farm.
The Estina project was among those flagged by former public protector Thuli Madonsela in her State of Capture report in 2014.
Last week, Public Protector Busi Mkhwebane found that the R220m tender given to the Estina dairy company was awarded irregularly and without following the prescripts of the government's procurement policy. She said the contract clearly benefited Estina at the cost of the state, taxpayers and the beneficiaries.
Two weeks ago, the Hawks raided the offices of Free State Premier Ace Magashule, who is also the ANC's secretary-general, as well as the provincial office of the Department of Agriculture.
After several months of investigations, the Hawks pounced on the Guptas and their alleged associates on Wednesday.
Shortly after 8am, a group of officers from the crime-busting unit were seen leaving the premises after raiding the Guptas' house.
The pair were driven away in a private vehicle with tinted windows.
This was the culmination of a sting operation that started before 6am. Two marked Golf GTIs belonging to the Hawks were seen parked outside the compound. The vehicles sped off behind the private vehicle with the two suspects.
Officers, some in police gear, were also in the car. A bevy of guards, clad in black, were seen opening the gates for vehicles that drove in and out. It was believed that documents were seized at the compound.
“This takedown has been in the works since 2017. It's one of the 17 complex cases that were prioritised regarding state capture,” the source said.
Private security guards remained on the premises.
The suspects were due to appear in the Bloemfontein Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the DA in the Free State has called for the arrest of Magashule as well as former agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane for their alleged role in the Estina matter.
Corruption Watch agreed, saying those implicated in multiple corruption scandals must be held accountable and brought to justice.