TIMELINE | A look back at the steps taken by SA to have the Guptas extradited

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  • The Department of Justice and Correctional Services has welcomed the finalisation and ratification of the treaties with the UAE. 
  • The agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and extradition between South Africa and the UAE was signed in 2018.
  • Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said the department expected "maximum cooperation" from the UAE.

The agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and extradition between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been ratified and comes in effect from 10 July, but that does not mean South Africans should expect the Gupta brothers to board the first plane back to the country.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said this during a media briefing on Friday morning.

PICS | Guptas' extradition: Civil society stages protest outside UAE embassy in Pretoria

Lamola welcomed the finalisation and ratification of the treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance.

"What we can say to South Africa is that we should not expect that the people of interest will board the first plane to SA tomorrow morning. There will still be legal processes to be followed, and we expect that there will be maximum cooperation from UAE," he said.

The Gupta brothers, close friends and associates of former president Jacob Zuma, fled South Africa in 2018 amid corruption allegations.

The State issued arrest warrants for Gupta brothers Atul and Rajesh and their wives, Chetali and Arti, as well as a number of business associates, in connection with R25 million spent on a feasibility study to determine the viability of the failed Estina dairy farm in Vrede in the Free State.

We look at a timeline of what happened after they fled SA

- September 2018:

Then-minister of justice and correctional services Michael Masutha announced that SA and the UAE signed treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. The treaties were signed in Abu Dhabi.

The step was a culmination of a process that began with discussions between the two countries in February 2010.

- November 2018:

The National Assembly approved the signing and ratification of the extradition treaties with the United Arab Emirates. The adoption of the extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties on criminal matters was unanimously approved by all political parties.

- October 2019:

The new Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shamila Batohi were reportedly part of a delegation travelling to Abu Dhabi to persuade the UAE to extradite the controversial Gupta brothers.

During that same month, South Africa approached several countries for mutual legal assistance to have the Guptas extradited to face state capture allegations, News24 reported at the time.

The countries were India, the UAE, Canada, Switzerland, Mauritius, Hong Kong and China, the justice department said at the time. The department said that it had approached eight countries, including the United States, for assistance.

The US Treasury then announced sanctions against the controversial family and their associate Salim Essa.

US Treasury's under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Sigal Mandelker said any assets owned by the family in US jurisdiction had been blocked.

Mandelker said the US would continue to hold "connected elites" to account for allegedly "stealing from their people and breaking their trust".

- May 2020:

Lamola said talks with the UAE over the Gupta extraditions were "progressing very well", News24 reported at the time.

Lamola was addressing Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services when he was asked about the corruption-accused Guptas' extradition from the UAE.

- November 2020:

In an update to Parliament, Lamola said the UAE was not cooperating regarding the extradition of the Gupta brothers to SA, TimesLive reported.

Lamola was giving a political overview of his department's annual report to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services at the time.

- June 2021:

The NPA's Investigating Directorate (ID) announced it had asked Interpol to circulate an international arrest warrant to have the Guptas deported to South Africa to stand trial on fraud and money laundering charges, News24 previously reported.

In the same month, the UAE's ambassador to South Africa released a statement confirming an agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and extradition between South Africa and that country was signed in 2018 and ratified in April this year.

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