Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have arrested fugitive Indian-origin businessmen Rajesh Gupta and Atul Gupta, the South African government said on Monday.
“Discussions between various law enforcement agencies in the UAE and South Africa on the way forward are ongoing,” South Africa’s Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services said. “The South African government will continue to co-operate with the UAE.”
The Gupta brothers have been accused of using connections with former South African President Jacob Zuma to win contracts, influence government appointments and misappropriate state funds, according to the BBC.
They had acquired South African citizenship but fled the country in 2018 after Zuma resigned from his post as allegations of corruption during his tenure surfaced. Zuma was the president of South Africa between 2009 and 2018.
An investigation was started in 2018 to examine allegations of political corruption during Zuma’s tenure. The Gupta brothers and Zuma have denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
In April 2021, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates had signed an extradition treaty, Reuters reported. However, it was not immediately clear whether the Gupta brothers would return to South Africa after their arrest.
South Africa’s largest Opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, took note of the arrests of the Gupta brothers and said it looks forward to more information about them. “It is of absolute importance that there is transparency on this matter,” it said.
The party also expressed hope that this would be the beginning of “arrests and prosecution of those directly responsible for the hardships that millions of South Africans face today”.
In June 2021, South Africa’s highest court had sentenced Zuma to 15 years’ imprisonment for refusing to appear before a commission investigating corruption allegations during his tenure as president. The former president’s supporters subsequently clashed with security forces in several areas of the country.
More than 70 people had died in the violence. In some places, protestors burned tyres, blocked roads and ransacked shopping malls.
Zuma was released on medical parole after he served two months of his sentence.