It is unlikely that the controversial Gupta family will be extradited to South Africa anytime soon to face the music for their massive state capture project. This is despite this week’s signing of the extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters treaties between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a territory in the Gulf under which Dubai falls.
The Guptas now live in Dubai.
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha signed the treaties with Sultan Saeed Al Badi on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi.
According to the department, the two countries had been negotiating the treaties since February 2010.
Masutha’s spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga told Independent Media yesterday that the treaties still needed to be ratified by Parliament before officially coming into effect.
He said it was up to South African law enforcement agencies to decide whether they wanted to extradite individuals living in the UAE who are of interest to them.
The Hawks have declared the Gupta brothers - Atul, Rajesh and Ajay - fugitives from justice, but their lawyers have stated that they refuse to return to South Africa due to the incompetence of the National Prosecuting Authority(NPA) and the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigations.
The Guptas have complained to the state capture commission of inquiry that the NPA and the Hawks have bungled their civil and criminal cases so much that they are unwilling to return to South Africa.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, pictured, has denied the Guptas their request to give evidence before his commission through video-conferencing from Dubai, because he would not have control over them as he has no jurisdiction in Dubai.
Yesterday, Judge Zondo admitted the commission’s investigation teams’ application to have three hard drives with evidence of the Guptas’, prominent politicians and other senior government functionaries aiding the family.
The commission’s legal team initially argued that the hard drives from whistle-blowers should be admitted as evidence.
Following lengthy legal arguments, Judge Zondo ruled that the hard drives containing hundreds of thousands of emails had been received as evidence and that no other person or party outside the commission could have access to its contents.
Earlier, Judge Zondo said the commission did not preclude its investigators from advancing its work by going through the emails even if they were not admitted as evidence.
The Justice Department promised that the treaties signed this week would enable the two countries to assist each other in the investigation and prosecution of crimes through mutual legal assistance and the extradition of fugitives.
It is also negotiating similar treaties with three other countries.
Judge Zondo’s commission resumes on Wednesday when Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is expected to testify.
Nene was fired in December 2015 after former president Jacob Zuma reshuffled his cabinet.
Nene was replaced by another ANC MP, Des van Rooyen, who only lasted a weekend in the position.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi did not respond to enquiries last week.