JOHANNESBURG: Two brothers of South Africa’s beleaguered Gupta family have quietly left the country, a media report said, amid growing calls for a probe into the Indian-origin business barons’ alleged influence over the government through President Jacob Zuma.
With enough luggage for 20 people Ajay and Atul Gupta left in their private jet from Lanseria airport, according to a report in City Press.
They left the country hours after they quit their firm.
It has also been reported that their Saxonwold residence in Johannesburg was deserted. Their third brother Rajesh lives in Dubai.
The Dubai connection is linked to Department of Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and Des van Rooyen who was appointed minister of finance after President Zuma sacked Nhlanhla Nene.
The Sunday Times reported that the two made mystery trips to Dubai late last year while the Guptas were there.
Ajay and Atul were the co-chairs of Oakbay Investments, while Atul was the chair of Oakbay Resources and Energy.
The three Gupta brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh have been under immense pressure for the past few months after several high-ranking members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), including the current Deputy Minister of Finance, claimed that the family had offered them government positions, including appointments as ministers.
The Guptas have denied these allegations, which have been termed as “state capture”.
Zuma’s son Duduzane held a directorship in the company after starting there as an intern a few years ago. He also resigned amid the political storm over the issue.
There have been widespread calls from several compatriots and aides of late President and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela as well as civil society and churches for Zuma to resign in the wake of the allegations and a finding by the country’s highest judicial body, the Constitutional Court, that he had breached his duties in terms of the Constitution.
But the ANC has come out in defense of their leader.
Simultaneous pressure on the Guptas has seen Oakbay’s banks and financiers all severing their association with the business in the past fortnight.
Oakbay Chief Executive Officer Nazeem Howa said the Guptas had taken the decision to move despite their continual denials of all these claims because of the impact it was having on their family.
The Gupta businesses are now under the control of Howa and other senior executives who are said to be negotiating with banks.
Howa was quoted as saying that while the Guptas were friends of Zuma but they had not even told the President of their decision to leave.
The Guptas had built up a huge empire with interests in mining and media among others after settling in South Africa about two decades ago from their ancestral home in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, hoping to capitalize on the economic opportunities presented by the new democratic government headed by Nelson Mandela. -PTI