The Constantia house that used to belong to Mark Thatcher.
In a nationwide seizure of properties, vehicles and bank accounts, the Asset Forfeiture Unit has seized the Guptas’ Constantia mansion that was formerly owned by Mark Thatcher, the disgraced son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

The now infamous Gupta family purchased the R17 million home in 2005.

The AFU was enforcing a court order as part of a probe into the Estina Dairy Farm scandal. Thirteen people are facing charges linked to allegations that R250m in public money meant for poor Free State dairy farmers was siphoned off by the Guptas.

The Constantia property and other assets were placed “under restraint pending finalisation of the criminal case”, said National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku earlier this week. Court documents allege their properties and other assets were purchased with the “proceeds of crime”.

The Dawn Avenue property is listed in NPA affidavits as being owned by Islandsite Investments One Hundred & Eighty (Pty) Ltd, a Gupta company that has since been placed under business rescue.

Islandsite owns other properties in Cape Town, Saxonwold, St Lucia and elsewhere worth a total of R190m. Dawn Avenue is listed in the court order as being worth R20m.

It’s not the first time the sprawling thatch-roofed mansion has made headlines for the wrong reasons. Last year it was mired in controversy when the City of Cape Town approved a major building departure application for extensive renovations despite objections from neighbours and the Constantia Ratepayers and Residents Association.

Thatcher’s former eight-bedroom house includes seven reception rooms, a 20m² swimming pool, a private gym, a wine cellar, a walk-in freezer and an entertainment lapa. The Guptas allegedly planned to add a double-storey, three-bedroom second dwelling that would increase the total floor area to 1 955m² - 437m² more than normally permitted.

Renovation plans also included enlarged staff quarters in the main building to accommodate a property manager, chef and three staff; the replacement of the thatch roof with a concrete deck that would up the floor area by another 30%; a new veranda juice bar and an improved lapa and gym.

The property was again in the news in February this year when it appeared that someone had left the taps running. It was only occupied by three staff, but the property was using more than 20 kilolitres per month. This prompted the council to install a water management device.

But not even the Gupta family could rival the international headlines the property scooped in 2004 when Thatcher was arrested by the Scorpions for his links to a failed coup in Equatorial Guinea.

Saturday Star