South Africa moves to have Guptas extradited

Shamila Batohi, South Africa's National Director of Public Prosecutions, during a media briefing this week.

Shamila Batohi, South Africa's National Director of Public Prosecutions, during a media briefing this week.

Published Jul 27, 2022


THE National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa (NPA) submitted a formal application to the Central Authority in the United Arab Emirates for the extradition of Atul and Rajesh Gupta on Monday.

This is within the 60-day period from the date of arrest of the Gupta brothers, as set out in the Extradition Treaty between South Africa and the UAE. The deadline for submission is August 2.

The brothers are accused of using their connections with Jacob Zuma, who was president from 2009 to 2018, to win contracts, influence cabinet appointments and siphon off state funds. Both Zuma and the Guptas have denied this.

The Gupta brothers were arrested in June. In a statement released on their Twitter account at the time, 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 their 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.

During a media briefing on Monday, Shamila Batohi, South Africa's National Director of Public Prosecutions, said the extradition application was submitted in both English and Arabic.

She addressed the Gupta matter during Justice Minister Ronald Lamola’s media briefing on efforts to extradite high profile fugitives. This included an update on the Gupta matter.

Batohi said their application addressed the general requirements for extradition which, if met, would allow the extradition to be granted under either the existing Extradition Treaty or the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), or both.

“A multi-disciplinary team within the NPA led the legal aspect of the process and worked in a focused and well-coordinated manner with the Office of the Director General of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, designated as the Central Authority (CA) for extradition processes to prepare and finalise the application,” she said.

Batohi said the work included consultation with legal counsel and some team members meeting with their counterparts in the UAE early this month,to ensure that the request for extradition met all the requirements of the bilateral treaty, and was in accordance with UAE domestic laws, and to build trust with relevant law enforcement partners.

“The NPA team, in close collaboration with the office of the CA, worked relentlessly and focused on complying with legal requirements of the Extradition Treaty and UNCAC. Political considerations regarding the extradition process were fully left in the hands of our partners in the Ministry of Justice and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

“The submission of the formal application request for the arrest and extradition of the Gupta brothers is an important milestone in the NPA’s commitment to hold accountable the perpetrators of state capture, and uphold the rule of law. It reaffirms our resolve to be the lawyers of the people and seek collective justice for our country,” said Batohi.

She said as this process unfolded, and the extradition application was heard in UAE courts, the NPA would continue to collaborate and support its counterparts in the UAE. This would be done to ensure that the Gupta brothers are extradited to face justice in South Africa.

“Whereas this process could take several months, as the NPA we will continue with our commitment to deliver for impact. The country demands this of us, and we are ready to keep moving to bring justice.”

Batohi commended the UAE authorities for their cooperation in the process.

Responding to questions from the media, Batohi said the extradition process could take a couple of months to finalise.

She said according to information they had, bail applications made by the brothers in the UAE were denied.

Batohi would not mention the names of prosecutors and investigators on their task team for security reasons. She would also not be drawn on details regarding other suspects linked to the Guptas and the corruption matter.

“The NPA has organised itself. We have set up a task force, internally and also with members of the DPI. We have looked at many of the cases that have been mentioned in the (Zondo) reports. We have prioritised them and we are looking at a whole range of information and evidence that may be available against many suspects.

“Once we go through this process, once we apply our own independent investigation, once we are certain that we meet the standard of a reasonable prospect of a successful prosecution, we will then proceed to charge people and also, if it is necessary, to make applications for others to be extradited, we will deal with that as well,” said Batohi .

Asked if the NPA was confident that, if the Gupta brothers are extradicted, it would be able to mount a case that would lead to conviction, Batohi said: “What I want to assure the people of South Africa is that as the NPA we do not bring cases unless we ourselves are satisfied that it meets the standard of reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution. That is a standard that is required in terms of our policy and we will only charge people if that standard is met.

“At the end of the day, whether there is a conviction or not, depends on a whole range of reasons. And so we can not guarantee that there will be a conviction, but what we can guarantee is that as the prosecuting authority we will do everything possible to ensure that the prospects of a successful prosecution, and a conviction, is extremely high,” said Batohi.


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