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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Dubai Police, SA authorities work on Gupta extradition file

In this file picture, taken last year, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation picketed outside the UAE Embassy calling for the extradition of the Guptas to be finalised. Two of the three Gupta brothers were arrested in Dubai this week. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)

In this file picture, taken last year, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation picketed outside the UAE Embassy calling for the extradition of the Guptas to be finalised. Two of the three Gupta brothers were arrested in Dubai this week. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jun 8, 2022

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Dubai Police have confirmed that they are working with South African authorities on the extradition file to complete legal procedures against two of the Gupta brothers who have been arrested in the city.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has said it is engaging relevant authorities in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the Gupta arrests.

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In a statement released on their Twitter account, the Dubai Police confirmed arresting Atul and Rajesh Gupta in connection with money laundering and criminal charges in South Africa.

“Dubai Police made the arrest after receiving a Red Notice for the Gupta brothers by Interpol. The force has also coordinated with the authorities in South Africa regarding the extradition file to complete the legal procedures,” said the statement.

A red notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.

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Chrispin Phiri, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services in South Africa, said: "Discussions between various law enforcement agencies in the UAE and South Africa on the way forward are ongoing. The South African government will continue to co-operate with the UAE.”

According to Reuters, the brothers are accused of using their connections with former president Jacob Zuma to win contracts, misappropriate state assets, influence cabinet appointments, and siphon off state funds.

Zuma, who was president from 2009 to 2018, and the Guptas deny any wrongdoing.

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“The Indian-born brothers left South Africa after Zuma was ousted in 2018. A state capture inquiry was established in 2018 to examine allegations of graft during Zuma's years in power.

“The UAE ratified an extradition treaty with South Africa in April 2021, a move that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's government hoped would lead to the return of the Guptas to face charges,” said the report.

The arrests have been welcomed with calls for due diligence to follow through in the matter.

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Siviwe Gwarube, the DA's national spokesperson, said: “We hope that this is indeed the beginning of arrests and prosecution of those who have – locally and abroad – looted our country for years and are directly responsible for the hardships that millions of South Africans face today.

"We look forward to more information regarding the arrests and the process that will be followed after these arrests. It is of absolute importance that there is transparency on this matter.”

Yashica Padia, the head of communication for the Active Citizens Movement, said the arrests are a critical initial step in obtaining redress.

“The State Capture Commission has received mountains of evidence, with much emanating from courageous whistleblowers who are suffering immeasurably as a result.

"We call on the National Prosecuting Authority to act speedily in the extradition process and to ensure the Gupta brothers return to South Africa. It would be encouraging if some of the misappropriated billions could be recouped to cover the costs to protect whistleblowers during the much-awaited trial, as well the cost of the State Capture Commission.”

Duduetsang Mmeti, the communications officer for the Defend Our Democracy Campaign, said if the Gupta brothers are extradited to South Africa to face charges, it would be a victory for civil society organisations and ordinary citizens who have consistently called for justice and accountability.

“It would also be a significant and welcomed development for the country as it tries to undo years of damage caused by the systematic repurposing of the state.

"As we anticipate the final report from the Commission of Inquiry, we hope that it will shed more light on the scale of corruption and capture and that the reports can be used as a basis for further criminal investigation and prosecution.”

Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesperson for the NPA, said extradition was a complex process that involved many role players, including the executive.

“It would therefore not be appropriate for the NPA to discuss the details of that process in the media but (we) can confirm that we are engaging with relevant authorities in SA and UAE.

“The NPA has an experienced team of internal and external experts who are working closely with law enforcement and our partners in the criminal justice system on the matter.”

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