South Africa’s elite police unit have raided the home of the controversial Gupta family as the investigation into so-called state capture continues. Three people have been arrested so far, including one of the brothers, with two other people expected to hand themselves in, police said in a statement.
The Gupta family have been accused using their friendship with President Jacob Zuma to wield enormous political influence for their business interests. They all deny the allegations. The raid comes as Mr Zuma faces increased pressure to resign, in part because of links to the Guptas. He is expected to respond later today to a formal request from the African National Congress (ANC) to step down.
The Hawks, South Africa’s priority crime unit, confirmed they were searching the Gupta’s walled compound near Johannesburg zoo on Wednesday morning. They have also carried out raids on other properties. According to the statement released to South African media, the raids were carried out in connection with the Vrede farm investigation. That particular investigation relates to the Estina dairy farm near Vrede, in the Free State, a project which was originally meant to help poor black farmers but from which the Gupta family are alleged to have pocketed millions of dollars.
Why is President Zuma under pressure?
The scandal-hit leader has been in power since 2009, but has been dogged by corruption allegations. Mr Zuma was replaced as the party’s leader in December by his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, but has so far resisted calls to resign. An official has said the 75-year-old was willing to stand down in the next three to six months, but top leadership want him to withdraw from power immediately
Who are the Gupta family?
The embattled Gupta family own a range of business interests in South Africa, including computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology and media. The three brothers, Atul, Rajesh and Ajay, moved to the country in 1993 from India, just as white-minority rule was ending.
They are known friends of President Zuma – and his son, daughter and one of the president’s wives worked for the family’s firms. The brothers have been accused of wielding enormous political influence in South Africa, with critics alleging that they have tried to “capture the state” to advance their own business interests.
What is the scandal between the family and the president?
Former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas made a public allegation in 2016 that he was offered 600m Rand ($50m; £36m) by the Gupta family to be the next finance minister – as long as he did their bidding.
It was followed by a damning report by a South African government ombudsman that accused the Guptas and President Zuma of colluding to win government contracts. The public backlash worsened in 2017 when more than 100,000 emails were leaked which appeared to show the extent the family had exerted their influence. It suggested a complex web of government contracts, as well as alleged kickbacks and money laundering. It prompted marches and public protests against the family and President Zuma, dubbed the “Zuptas”.