WANTED: Ajay Gupta, fugitive from justice
NationalWANTED: Ajay Gupta, fugitive from justice
A manhunt is underway for former President Jacob Zumaâs son, Duduzani after the Hawks descended on his Saxonwold mansion in a pre-dawn raid. Duduzani is being sought for his alleged involvement in the fraud scandal at the Estina dairy farm at Vrede in the Free State.
On Thursday, The Star newspaper reported that one of Duduzaniâs business associates, Atul Gupta, was picked up while trying to flee the country. According to the report, the pilot of the private aircr aft Atul was on, refused to fly from Lanseria airport.
The Hawks had reportedly called on Atul to hand himself in or face being branded a âfugitiveâ, according to Business Day newspaper.
Mail & Guardian reporter Raâeesa Pather reports from Bloemfontein that a large contingent of police were preventing journalists from entering the courtroom with spaces apparently being reserved for politicians.
After the intervention of the South African National Editorâs Forum (Sanef) and court officials, the Bloemfontein Regional Court has said it will look into making provisions for one reporter and one photographer per media house to enter the courtroom.
Eight people and 3 companies are implicated in the matter.
Ashu Chawla, Nazeem Howa, Varun Gupta, Ronica Ragavan, Peter Thabethe, Dr Tikisi Masiteng, Sylvia Dlamini and Kamal Vasram are appearing in Court 29 of the Bloemfontein magistrateâs court to face charges of fraud in connection with the Free State Vrede dairy farm project.
The accused face charges of fraud, theft, conspiracy to commit fraud and theft, contravening the Public Finance Management Act, contravening the Companies Act and contravening sections of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
Former Free State agriculture head Peter Thabethe was arrested on Wednesday after a an early morning raid at his home in Bloemfontein. Thabethe was the head of department at the time that Mosebenzi Zwane, who is now Minister of Mineral Resources, was the agriculture MEC.
Varun Gupta, the nephew of the Gupta brothers, along with his uncle Atul resigned in April 2016 as respective chairperson and chief executive of Oakbay Resources, in response to what they called a âsustained political attackâ.
The two vacated their posts amid allegations fr om opposition parties claiming that the Gupta family had used their ties with President Jacob Zuma to exert undue influence on government activities and appointments.
Accused 1, 2 and 3 (who are state officials) have been granted R10 000 bail each. Accused 7, 8, 9 and 10 (the Gupta-linked accused) have had bail set at R200 000. Vasramâs address must still be confirmed and so bail is yet to be set, if at all. According to News24, the matter relating to Vasramâs address will be heard at 3.30pm.
Ministry of Police statement - Feb 15, 2018 by Kiri Rupiah on Scribd
Minister of Police Fikile Mbabula said in a statement released on Thursday, that the Hawks, working with the National Prosecuting Authority, have served warrants of arrests on 13 suspects yesterday in coordinated sweeps in Bloemfontein and Johannesburg relating to the Vrede Dairy Project.
The statement does not name the 13 suspects but mentions that two are of Indian nativity and another of Chines e origin.
âDue to the sensitivity and seriousness of these matters it is not possible for the DPCI or my office to provide minute to minute account of the state of capture related investigations but once again assure all that since mid-2017 at least 17 dockets are being investigated without fear or favour and indeed with no holy-cowsâ, the statement reads.
According to the statement, the Hawks, assisted by the National Intervention Unit of the South African Police Service effected the arrests on some of the implicated suspects while others handed themselves in.
Investigations are ongoing and more arrests are expected throughout the day.
This is a developing story which will be updated as more details emerge.
Kiri Rupiah is the Mail & Guardianâs social media editor. Read more from Kiri Rupia h