The arrest of Rajesh and Atul Gupta in Dubai this month is by far the biggest development in the fight for justice in the state capture scandal. But South Africans will need to exercise patience.
The Guptas, who are still behind bars awaiting trial, will probably appeal the extradition request and it may be some time before they are put on a flight to OR Tambo to have their day in our courts. If we win that battle, we’ll have to sit through a LONG trial before they’re sentenced. And then there’ll likely be appeals.
But the way we eat an elephant is one bite at a time, so let’s look at just the first step: getting the brothers to SA. Gareth Newham, one of the country’s top experts on crime and justice, told the Sunday Times that he has confidence in the NPA on this front.
“They’re being advised by some of our top extradition lawyers [and have] some of the best legal minds in the country on advisory panels helping them make decisions,” said Newham. “I’m confident that everything that can be done will be done to bring them back to SA.”
There are other promising signs. Remember how the Guptas fled to Dubai when the net was closing in on them in SA? UAE authorities will be opposing bail applications on South Africa’s behalf, so that decreases the threat of a great escape – plus there was the big asset freeze and the red notice issued by Interpol in February.
The third brother, Ajay, has gone to ground and is yet to be arrested.
The Guptas are accused of plundering our state coffers and directing ministerial appointments through their ally, former President Jacob Zuma. The damage they caused to our country and economy cannot be overstated.
But the charges that Rajesh and Atul are facing now are related to one specific case: the so-called “Estina scam”, stolen money that was intended to uplift poor, black farmers. This will be at the centre of the legal proceedings. Buckle up. It’s going to be a long ride.