Johannesburg: An elite South African police team on Wednesday raided the luxurious family home of the controversial Gupta family — a clan of Indian-born businessmen — known to wield substantial influence in South African politics due to close ties with President Jacob Zuma.
The wealthy Gupta family has been accused of “state capture” — using their friendship with Zuma and a number of senior government officials to influence ministerial appointments, secure multi-million dollar government contracts and gain access to inside information.
Mr. Zuma has been involved in several scandals, one known as Guptagate. It involved the president’s allegedly corrupt relationship with a wealthy family of Indian immigrants headed by three brothers — Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta — who built a business empire in mining, media, technology and engineering.
Both Zuma and the Guptas deny the accusations.
The Hawks, South Africa’s priority crime unit, confirmed they searched the Gupta’s walled compound near Johannesburg zoo. The BBC cited local media reports as saying that one of the three Gupta brothers was arrested.
However, the Guptas lawyer Ahmed Ghani said his clients had not been arrested, South Africa’s Times Live reported.
Hangwani Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the Hawks, said the raid was part of an investigation into allegations of influence-peddling in the government.
“We have now left the compound. It is an operation that is ongoing related to issues of ‘state capture’,” Mulaudzi told AFP referring to the alleged corruption of state institutions under Zuma’s reign.
It came a day after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) formally asked Zuma, who has been in power since 2009, to resign over a range of corruption charges.
The raid is a sign that Cyril Ramaphosa, the new leader of the African National Congress (ANC), will move swiftly against those associated with the corruption allegations and mismanagement that have characterised Zuma’s tenure, the Guardian reported.
The 75-year-old Zuma on Wednesday resigned from his office with immediate effect after the ruling ANC party threatened to eject him from office via a parliamentary vote of no confidence.
Zuma who is under pressure to step down, in part because of links to the Guptas making the announcement in a 30-minute national television address to the nation said that he had “come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect”.
“I have served the people of South Africa to the best of my ability.
The embattled Gupta family has 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 Zuma — and his son, daughter and one of the President’s wives worked for the family’s firms.