Sunday Times responds to Gupta indictment confusion

2018-01-30 19:33
Ajay and Atul Gupta. (Muntu Vilakazi, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

Ajay and Atul Gupta. (Muntu Vilakazi, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

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Johannesburg - The Sunday Times says they were unaware that a "criminal indictment" against the three Gupta brothers and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, which they published, was identical to the one drafted by former NPA prosecutor and DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach as a "guideline for the Hawks".

The newspaper published the indictment last Sunday and reported that Zwane, along with Atul, Rajesh and Ajay Gupta were to be charged with money laundering in a matter of weeks.

However, it later emerged that the indictment was not a finalised document drafted by the NPA, but rather a document identical to one Breytenbach had drafted to give direction to the Hawks investigation.

READ: Gupta, Zwane indictment circulated to media was 'drafted by DA'

"In hindsight, we should not have identified it as a finalised indictment as it is yet to be signed by the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP). We however, have no doubt that the documents we used emanated from the National Prosecuting Authority and is an official document," Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko said on Tuesday afternoon.

He said if they had known the indictment was drafted by the DA, they would have nevertheless published the story.

"But we would have treated it differently after interrogating these officials regarding the origin and status of the document and the reason for using it as their official document," said Siqoko.

"We relied on interviews conducted with and documents provided to us by senior prosecutorial officials. The primary source document was identified to us as an indictment from the prosecuting authorities."

However, he said they had no reason to believe that they were misled, fed incorrect documents, or that their sources had sinister or personal motives.

Breytenbach told News24 on Monday that the indictment was drafted for the Hawks as a guideline. 

READ: NPA denies Zwane and Gupta indictment

"It is meant to give direction to the investigation of the Hawks… with all the supporting documentation of the Gupta Leaks," she said.

Breytenbach said the indictment "was never given to anybody as an official indictment" and that those who reported on an indictment this past weekend didn’t get it from the DA.

On Monday, NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku confirmed the document was not drafted by them.

"That is not NPA. We are professionals, we don’t do stuff like that. It is not NPA," he said.

"I am not chatting about anything. I do not want to engage about it… We were angry yesterday (Sunday) and the Hawks made it clear that they were still investigating people," Mfaku said.

On Sunday, Mfaku told News24 there was "no finalised indictment" and that the "investigation [was] not fully completed".

The Hawks are currently investigating allegations that R220m fraud had been committed in connection with a dairy project in Vrede in the Free State, which was meant to empower small black farmers.

ALSO READ: NPA freezes R220m, land linked to Gupta farm

On Friday, the office of Free State Premier Ace Magashule and the provincial office of the Department of Agriculture were raided by the Hawks.

News24 recently revealed that the Krynaauwslust farm near Vrede, was placed under curatorship.

The Free State agricultural department – then under Zwane – allegedly paid R220m to the Guptas in what the AFU calls a "scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department".

One hundred black emerging farmers were allegedly promised five cows each as part of the empowerment scheme, but never received them.

Gifted to the Gupta-linked Estina in 2013 under a free 99-year lease by the provincial agriculture department, the farm is said to be one of the most scandalous transactions between the Guptas and a government entity.

Gupta Leaks revealed last year how at least R30m paid to the Guptas via the farm ended up funding the family's lavish Sun City wedding in 2013.

Read more on:    sunday times  |  npa  |  glynnis breytenbach  |  ace magashule  |  mosebenzi zwane  |  state capture

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