South Africa’s chief prosecutor on Thursday declared businessman Ajay Gupta a “fugitive from justice” after he avoided arrest, Reuters reported. Ajay Gupta is one of the three brothers accused of “state capture”, a term coined to describe how the family allegedly used its relationship with former President Jacob Zuma to influence state contracts, Cabinet appointments and secure several multimillion-dollar deals in the country. The Guptas and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.
“I have been advised by my prosecuting team that Ajay Gupta is a fugitive from justice,” Shaun Abrahams, head of the National Prosecuting Authority, told Reuters.
The South African Police have said that Ajay Gupta, who has been on the run, is surrounded by a team of heavily armed bodyguards, Times Live reported. “We have issued a warrant of arrest for him,” police department spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said. “Although those protecting him must know they are protecting a wanted suspect. They will be charged with aiding and abetting a suspect.”
Mulaudzi added that they had flagged border posts and hoped to capture Ajay Gupta soon.
Ajay Gupta’s nephew Verun appeared before a magistrate court on Thursday on charges of corruption, fraud and theft. He has been charged for theft of $19 million (Rs 12.14 lakh crore) from the Free State agricultural department. He was released on bail at 200,000 rand (approximately Rs 11 lakh).