Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has said government has lawyered up to fight Atul Gupta’s attempt to have a South African passport issued to him.
Motsoaledi spoke at a media briefing on Wednesday, 3 March 2021. He said they stood firm by the decision to deny the Gupta brother permission to possess a South African passport.
“We definitely believe he shouldn’t be getting the passport he’s applying for, that’s what we are defending, that’s our position in the department. The rest of the reasons will be provided by senior counsel but our position is that we are defending the case because we don’t think his demand for a South African passport is proper,” the minister said.
Atul Gupta has approached the High Court in a bid to have his passport issued. He claims the Home Affairs director-general’s failure to grant him a passport was unlawful. He, together with the rest of his controversial family, fled South Africa under a cloud of controversy and the promise of prosecution in April 2016.
The Gupta brothers’ legal challenge has prompted other questions – mainly whether government has managed to make strides as far as extraditing them is concerned.
The family has been hiding in Dubai and their quick exit out of South Africa came in the wake of former president Jacob Zuma’s downfall and resignation.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has said that it’s still waiting for the State Capture Commission to finish its work before it can pounce.
“At this stage, we are waiting for the conclusion of the State Capture Inquiry. Once that culminates in indictments and legal court documents, that’s when we can confidently say ‘these are the suspects, and here are the charges’. The Hawks are still preparing their final case against the Guptas – only then can action be taken,” NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said.
“There is a Commission that is taking place and subsequent to that, there would be criminal charges that would have to be laid and prosecution would have to make the relevant applications to the various countries. So, work is still being done and once that work has been done, pronouncements will be made in terms of where those processes are.”
Both Zuma and the Gupta brothers remain firmly at the centre of investigations into State Capture. It’s alleged that the Guptas’ close connection to the Zuma gave them undue access to lucrative government contracts at several state-owned entities including Eskom and Transnet.