SA urged to take swift action against the Guptas as US piles on pressure

The Gupta brothers.
The Gupta brothers.

South African authorities must crack the whip on the Gupta family, say opposition parties as the US moved to blacklist the controversial brothers with close links to former president Jacob Zuma.

"It’s a welcome development and it is now for our local authorities to take action," DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi told News24.

Brothers Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta, Rajesh Gupta and their associate Salim Essa used their political connections to "line their pockets with ill-gotten gains", said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker.

'Pay-to-play political patronage'

"Treasury's designation targets the Guptas' pay-to-play political patronage, which was orchestrated at the expense of the South African people," she said in a statement announcing the US sanction which essentially prohibits US persons from doing business with them.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that the restrictions against the Guptas and Essa is a clear indication that those involved in corruption will face consequences.

"This action reaffirms the United States' commitment to support the rule of law and accountability in South Africa and globally."

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola confirmed that the US is one of eight countries that South African law enforcement agencies issued mutual legal assistance requests to.

"I welcome the collaborative efforts by the US government in the country's fight against corruption," he said in a statement.

"The interest of justice must not be shackled by any boundary or border and justice must be seen to be done without fear or favour," said Lamola.

SA dragging its feet

COPE used the opportunity to take a swipe at the ANC, saying it is a "disgrace" that the United States government is taking action against the Guptas while "South Africa fails to move an inch".

COPE called on the criminal justice system to follow in the footsteps of the US.

"We can't leave it to outsiders, we must lead by example to show that the people of South Africa hate corruption and that nobody is above the law."

Rudi Krause, the lawyer for the Guptas, told AFP that he was aware of the matter.

The family, who are now living in Dubai, pulled out of its business ventures in South Africa when Zuma was ousted as president.

 - Compiled by Adiel Ismail

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