Move with cau­tion on Gup­tas

The Mercury - - OPINION -

THE South African gov­ern­ment has moved with great speed to con­clude an ex­tra­di­tion agree­ment with the United Arab Emi­rates.

This move should be com­mended as it will en­sure that the gov­ern­ment moves a step closer to get­ting the con­tro­ver­sial Gupta fam­ily hauled be­fore a court to ac­count for the al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture.

The sign­ing of the treaty gives re­newed hope that the Gupta broth­ers will fi­nally face the mu­sic.

The fam­ily left our shores in haste fol­low­ing the re­moval of their close friend, for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, amid mount­ing pres­sure for them to be in­ves­ti­gated over al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion and state cap­ture.

With one bat­tle hav­ing been won, the gov­ern­ment, through its or­gans of state such as the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity and the Hawks, must en­sure that the State has enough ev­i­dence to suc­cess­fully pros­e­cute them.

It is point­less to rush the Gup­tas into our courts, only for them to walk be­cause some­one bun­gled the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The gov­ern­ment’s le­gal ex­perts have ac­knowl­edged that for ex­tra­di­tion to oc­cur, “the state must al­ready have prima fa­cie or suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to pros­e­cute the per­son”.

It must be re­mem­bered that the Gup­tas and their busi­ness as­so­ci­ates have scored le­gal vic­to­ries against the state in the past. In May the High Court in Bloem­fontein re­leased the fam­ily’s as­sets, worth R250 mil­lion, in­clud­ing lux­ury cars, air­craft and prop­er­ties seized by the As­set For­fei­ture Unit.

As peo­ple with deep pock­ets, the Gupta broth­ers are ca­pa­ble of get­ting the best le­gal minds in their des­per­ate bid to stay out of jail. How­ever, if our law en­force­ment agen­cies do their home­work, all the re­sources the Gup­tas have won’t help their cause.

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