How the authorities fumbled arrest of Gupta brothers
The Hawks insist they were ready to pounce on the pair before they left the country, but the NPA was tardy in dealing with the docket
The fight between the Hawks and the NPA over state capture investigations has blown the lid on how the Hawks were forced not to announce a warrant of arrest for Atul Gupta and his brother Rajesh in a bid to lure them back into the country.
Times Select has it on good authority that a warrant of arrest was issued for Atul and Rajesh, specifically in relation to the Estina Dairy Project in the Free State, alongside a Chinese businesswoman.
But, because of the NPA’s delay in giving the arrests a go-ahead, the pair had already left the country for Dubai and India, sources said.
Hawks investigators then decided that they would instead publicise the warrant of arrest for Ajay Gupta, their brother, in the hope that the duo would believe they were not wanted and could return to South Africa where they will face arrest for fraud and corruption in relation to the Estina project.Ajay is wanted over his alleged bribery offer to former deputy Finance minister Mcebisi Jonas in 2015, and is a fugitive.
The Hawks insist they were ready to pounce on the Guptas before they left the country, but for the NPA’s tardiness in dealing with the docket that was signed off in November.“We took a decision that it was already late when we got the arrest warrant, so we were not going to communicate it because they were going to be hostile and not return. But now the NPA is creating the impression that we let them leave the country. We were ready to pounce in November. We said that,” the source said.This was corroborated by a second source who confirmed that Atul and Rajesh were wanted and their names, pictures and identity documents have been submitted to Interpol for apprehension.
Meanwhile, the Guptas’ lawyer, Rudi Krause, said he has no warrant of arrest for any of his clients, not even Ajay.
“They have not told me anything. I saw the head of the Hawks saying they are negotiating with me. They are not negotiating with me. I want the information from them I asked for,” he said.This week acting Hawks head Lieutenant-General Yolisa Matakata told parliament the NPA hampered the Gupta-linked Vrede dairy farm case going to court by sitting on the docket for months.
She also accused the NPA of sitting on other finalised state capture investigations.
“These cases were prosecutor-driven. The NPA cannot say we didn’t do our job. They were giving instructions. When we finalised the matter in November, they sat on the case until February,” the source hit back.The Hawks source said National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abra-hams’s inaction on state capture matters was a cause of frustration in his own institution since the Asset Forfeiture Unit decided to act on the Vrede Dairy Project without Abrahams’s approval.
The fight between the criminal justice institutions led to parliament cracking the whip on Friday, saying Abrahams and Matakata must appear before it on Wednesday.Parliament’s portfolio committees on justice and police called for a joint urgent meeting to get answers on the Estina Dairy Project investigation and other state capture cases.
Police portfolio committee chairperson Francois Beukman said they want answers from both heads.
“We want to know that if they (NPA) got finalised dockets why was there delays. The criminal justice system is severely hampered,” he said.
They wanted to know how arrests are delayed after an investigation is finalised.The Hawks would not comment on the matter, with spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi saying they do not make the details of investigations public.
The NPA merely confirmed Abrahams would appear before the portfolio committee on Wednesday and give his side of the story.
The concession by sources that there is a warrant of arrest for Atul and Rajesh Gupta raises the question of how Atul was allowed in and out of the South African consulate in Dubai last week.
The Sunday Times reported last week that Atul casually walked into the consulate seeking to certify court papers in his application to set aside a preservation order obtained by the Asset Forfeiture Unit, which reveals that he personally received R10-million illegally from the Estina Dairy Project.
On Thursday, the NPA opposed Atul’s application.