Detained in Dubai: 'We are worried but not panicking'
Family speaks on SA man in Dubai who is under investigation for Gupta video
The family of Justin van Pletzen – the South African who confronted Ajay Gupta outside the Indian consulate in Dubai and who is now under investigation by that country's authorities – say that, while they are concerned about their brother, they are not panicking.
“Worried? What do you think? He’s my brother. But we are not panicking,” said Van Pletzen’s brother Sebastian, who also works and lives in Dubai.
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) maintains the South African is in custody – and that they are sending consular officials there every day to check up on him.
On Thursday, Justin’s phone went directly to voicemail.
Sebastian van Pletzen, speaking to Times Select on Thursday from Dubai, said the family understood that Justin had not been arrested but that he was under investigation.
“Yes, there is an investigation by UAE authorities, because a law on videoing people in that country has been broken, but I can assure you my brother has not been arrested or charged.”Van Pletzen’s comments come a day after Dirco said Justin had been arrested and that their officials in Dubai were providing him and his family with consular assistance.
Last week, Justin, acting on a R300 bet, confronted Gupta outside the Indian embassy and asked if he would return to South Africa to “face the music”.
Gupta has been labelled a fugitive by the Hawks after he failed to hand himself over in connection with their investigation into allegations of corruption around a larger probe into state capture.
Van Pletzen told Times Select that his brother had been instructed to “keep a low profile”.
“There is a law which means it is illegal to do what Justin did. He [Justin] is co-operating with the Dubai authorities in their investigation. Maybe there will be charges but maybe, and we are hopeful, there won’t.”
He said his brother, as a South African citizen, had acted on his civil duties to report a wanted suspect.“There are laws in this country [Dubai] which have to be abided by and when you are in someone else’s house you do as they say.”
International Relations and International Co-operation spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said Justin remained in custody.
“He [Justin] is in police custody. Our consular people visited Justin today. Every morning we send people to visit him. Yesterday he was in police custody just like he was in police custody this morning.
“It could be that he has subsequently been released, but we have not heard this.”Mabaya added that it had been Justin’s family who had informed the media that he [Justin] was in custody, and not the department.
“There may be a reason for them not wanting this to be known. We don’t know. We have no reason to doubt the South African ambassador who says Justin is still in custody.
“From what we understand, Justin is to appear in court on Sunday or Monday.”
While Mabaya told Times Select he would establish whether Justin had subsequently been released on Thursday and what e had been charged with, he failed to return calls or SMSs by the time of going to print.