It is by now obvious the government of South Africa has failed to exert sufficient pressure on the countries that harbour the fugitive Gupta brothers to extradite them to face justice. The extradition treaty, long signed by South Africa, is still unratified by the UAE.
Given that Dubai judges have set a 5-year time limit for extradition, the chances of them ever being sent back to answer for state capture and pay back the money is next to nothing. That 5 year time limit lapsed in August.
This failure is crushing, as our economy plummets. The people of South Africa have been robbed of an estimated R1 trillion. This money would have provided critical relief during COVID-19. People have literally died because this money was stolen.
On 15 December 2019, the Sunday Times reported that Ministers Ronald Lamola and Senzo Mchunu led a delegation in talks with the government of the UAE over the repatriation of the Guptas. They were joined by the head of the National Prosecuting Authority, Shamila Batohi.
Nothing has happened since then.
The Guptas and their lieutenant, Salim Essa, still squander SOE monies and enjoy a lavish life styles in Dubai while workers in many SOEs face retrenchments and are not pay being paid their full salaries. They apparently travel freely to India, Uzbekistan and Switzerland. Ironically more has been done by the United States Treasury department, through the Magnitsky Act, to punish the Guptas than our own government representing the real victims of their looting spree.
Evidence about Gupta crimes abounds. It has for years.
On 4 October 2017 already, SAFTU laid criminal charges against the Guptas, the Directors of Trillian and other implicated persons for the crimes of fraud, theft, corruption and money-laundering arising from their dealings at Eskom and Transnet. The charges were laid at the Specialized Commercial Crimes Unit in Johannesburg (under CAS 117/10/2017 (Hillbrow)). SAFTU sent a copy of its complaint to the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation at the SAPS and to the NDPP.
Until today, nearly three years later, not a single implicated person is before the courts. Investigations drag on and on. Yet our affidavit contained detailed allegations and evidence of wrong doing. To rub salt to injury, the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit has not given SAFTU any feedback since 2017.
We note that President Ramaphosa believes history will absolve him of blame in how poorly the corruption fight back is going so far. History did not elect him, nor will history be able to do much should his promises fail.
SAFTU supports the NPA in its holding state capturers to account. But we cannot remain silent when promises of imminent action are made and broken. The Guptas have got away. The government should hang our heads in shame. So should UAE authorities who have dragged the matter. We note statements by the NPA that September 2020 will see arrests and prosecutions finally start.
There are three weeks to go. Workers are impatiently watching.