Atul and Ajay Gupta. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
This week, the US Treasury Department announced that it was imposing financial sanctions on the Gupta brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, and their associate Salim Essa.

The statement was unequivocal and is worth repeating:

“The Gupta family leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets. Treasury’s designation targets the Guptas’ pay-to-play political patronage, which was orchestrated at the expense of the South African people.”

It is a far-ranging act with many potential consequences, one of which, some analysts believe, might be the dislodging of the family from their self-imposed gilded cage in Dubai and forcing them into even deeper exile somewhere else, because of the United Arab Emirates’s relationship with Washington.

It will be interesting too to see if other members of the state capture empire - specifically, the former president’s son Duduzane Zuma - are similarly sanctioned.

The biggest question though is what South Africa is doing.

We know Jacob Zuma systematically emasculated the National Prosecuting Authority and we know President Cyril Ramaphosa is a stickler for transparent process and a painstaking gathering of evidence, but there is a danger too of inertia setting in - and a rise in a dangerous sense of impunity.

At the moment, there appear to be no consequences for wrong doing by powerful politically connected elites in the country.

This is too dangerous a perception for it to be allowed to flourish because, if the players at the top of the food chain are seen to get away with it, corruption and collusion will metastasise even deeper into the fibres of our society, making it harder to eradicate.

We dare not allow this.

The Guptas need to be charged and extradited to South Africa to stand trial before they flee Dubai.