28 February 2018

South Africa: NPA 'Hindered' Prosecution of State Capture Suspects - Hawks

The Hawks had a docket on the Gupta's Estina-scam ready by November. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) only gave them the go ahead to make arrests in February.

By this time, the fugitive Ajay Gupta was out of the country.

Acting Hawks head Yolisa Matakata told the portfolio committee on police on Wednesday that the NPA did not "hinder the investigation [into state capture], but they're hindering the progress of taking the matter to court".

MPs across party lines were unhappy about this.

Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said there was a perception that the NPA themselves were captured, and asked if this formed part of the Hawks' investigation into state capture.

'Huge matters'

Matakata said she did not have any substance to say they were captured, but she "raised concerns" with former minister of police Fikile Mbalula and National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams.

"I don't know if they were deliberate or not," she said. "There is no investigation on whether they're captured."

Matakata explained that the investigation into state capture was prosecution-guided. Abrahams assigned a team of prosecutors to the investigation.

"These are huge matters and complex," she said.

"You can't just go and arrest people and let them appear in court."

The NPA had to craft charges first.

She said they considered arresting the suspects, "because we got frustrated by the NPA".

"We don't want to arrest people just to be seen to arrest people."

Matakata said they are not negotiating with Guptas' lawyer.

"We are not going to be held at ransom by the lawyer," she said.

"Mr Ajay Gupta is a fugitive."

'NPA must be accountable'

Asked if former president Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane Zuma is also wanted, Matakata said the Hawks never made such a pronouncement.

"We didn't have a warrant of arrest for Duduzane Zuma."

African National Congress MP Leonard Ramatlakane suggested that the committee have a joint meeting with the portfolio committee on Justice to get answers from the NPA.

"The NPA must be accountable," he said. "They can't be untouchables."

Committee chairperson Francois Beukman said he would meet with his counterpart from the justice committee, Mathole Motshekga on Wednesday afternoon.

Depending on this meeting, an urgent meeting with the NPA would be scheduled. He would also write to the new Police Minister Bheki Cele to bring the matter to his attention.

In an affidavit before court, Asset Forfeiture Unit head of operations, advocate Knorx Molelle, revealed how the Free State's agricultural department - under then-MEC Mosebenzi Zwane - paid R220m to the Guptas in what the AFU called a "scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department".

The farm was gifted to the Gupta-linked Estina in 2013 under a free 99-year lease by the Free State agriculture department for an empowerment project.

In 2017, the #GuptaLeaks revealed how at least R30m paid to the Guptas via the farm ended up funding the family's lavish Sun City wedding in 2013.

State officials Peter Thabethe, Sylvia Dlamini and Takisi Masiteng and Gupta associates Varun Gupta, Ronica Ragavan, Nazeem Howa and Ashu Chawla and Kamal Vasram appeared in court this month and were granted bail.

Source: News24

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