Guptas considering legal options after Hindu ceremony protest

Cape Town - The Gupta family is considering their legal options after a group of 10 people protested the family's Shrimad Bhagwat Katha religious ceremony this weekend, their lawyer has said.

A group of ten people from Johannesburg Against Injustices (JAI) conducted a "small, silent protest" outside the Military Museum in Saxonwold on Sunday, where the Gupta-organised event was being held.

The family was looking into the circumstances around the protests at the event, which will run until Sunday, advocate Gert van der Merwe told News24.

"It is indeed on the table that people used this religious event to prevent other people from exercising their Constitutional Right of religious freedom," Van Der Merwe said on Monday.

"Depending on the factual feedback I receive; who was there, if it was legal, who caused disruption and in what way, we will [consider legal options]."

However, Van Der Merwe said the family would only make a decision after it had got all the information, once the event concludes this Sunday.

"Keep in mind it's a week-long event, so it will be premature to take a decision now.

"You only have one bite of the cherry when you issue a summons, so I'll only be able to determine everything after [Sunday]."

'Perpetual wrongdoers'

The JAI on Sunday said that, while they respected the rights of devotees to worship, the actions of the Gupta family were contrary to the teachings of Lord Krishna.

They called for the event to be boycotted.

"What we did today was not a march. What we had was a small, organised silent protest. There were only ten people, and we spread ourselves to different entrances, with our posters – which we had a right to have. That does not require permission," said Peggy Pillay, one of the organisers.

The JAI described the Gupta family as "perpetual wrongdoers", saying "they must not use religion to conceal their nefarious deeds or as some kind of public relations exercise to turn the tide of public opinion".

Members of Black First Land First (BLF) came to the family's defence after JAI's protest began on Sunday, and interrupted the protesters.

BLF said they were there to protect the rights of the Guptas to celebrate their religion, and it would not stand for "agents of Rupert" interrupting the Guptas at their event.

Officers from the Parkview Police and Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) were called to the scene by one of the protesters who said she felt intimidated and claimed she was manhandled.

Police officers could not verify whether the protest was legal or not.

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