As the Hawks continue their hunt for Ajay Gupta, they are also intensifying their search for President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, who has been on the run since Wednesday.
And they believe it is only a matter of time before Duduzane is also declared a fugitive, according to highly placed sources in the security cluster.
Duduzane and Ajay, the patriarch of the Gupta family in South Africa who are at the centre of state capture, have been evading arrest since Wednesday after the Hawks raided their mansions in Saxonwold.
They are being sought for their alleged role in the fraud scandal at the Estina dairy farm in Vrede in the Free State, which saw politicians and businesspeople pocketing millions from the project earmarked for emerging black farmers.
Ajay’s brothers, Atul and Rajesh, also known as Tony, are also being sought for their alleged role in the fraud. An unnamed Chinese businessman and his wife are also believed to have fled South Africa.
Now, the Hawks are losing their patience with Duduzane after he failed to hand himself over.
“Duduzane does have a lawyer but he is evading arrest. The Hawks have been to his house; he knows they are looking for him but it seems he has decided to ignore them. There’s a warrant of arrest for him as well, so we will get him,” said a source familiar with the investigations.
“Duduzane is running away because he knows the police are looking for him. The only reason he has not been declared a fugitive is that the police do not know his lawyers. But the fact of the matter is that he has to be found. And we will find him, sooner or later.”
Another source said the police were getting worried as Duduzane, like Ajay, was considered a flight risk.
“Duduzane is also a flight risk, he also has a property that he stays in in Dubai. It will compel the police to oppose bail.”
The SAPS initially thought that Atul was the one who had tried to skip the country on Wednesday but it later turned out that it was Ajay. Atul and Rajesh are said to have left South Africa before the raids on Wednesday.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said investigators were still in negotiations with a security company “protecting” Ajay.
The Sunday Independent was tipped off on Saturday that Duduzane and Ajay might have fled to Lesotho, but this could not be verified. The paper can, however, reveal that a high-ranking joint team comprising members of the SAPS, Hawks and the Ministry of Police will be scouring South Africa’s neighbours as they step up their hunt for the pair.
“SAPS tracking specialist, a Hawks General Matakata, and ministry special adviser Bongani Mbindwane on Saturday (yesterday) will be criss-crossing in a police jet between Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to meet their counterparts in making sure that Gupta and others do not get smuggled out of South Africa through their countries,” said a source.
The Sunday Independent understands that Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s Mbindwane will soon hold political meetings with his counterparts, while the police will also be holding meetings with their regional counterparts.
The Ministry of Police refused to confirm or deny the information, citing operational secrecy.
Earlier on Saturday, Mbalula told The Sunday Independent that Ajay was in the country. “Ajay Gupta is in South Africa. I have instructed the generals to step up their hunt for him. So I am optimistic that we will find him soon.”
On Friday, Mulaudzi said reports that a warrant of arrest had been issued for Atul were incorrect. “For what charges?” Mulaudzi asked.
The three Gupta brothers face charges of fraud, money laundering and corruption emanating from investigations into the swindling of funds from the Estina dairy farm project.
The funds were siphoned to Dubai, and R30million of it was used to pay for the lavish wedding of one of their daughters in December 2013.
Prosecutors last month called the project a “scheme designed to defraud and steal”.
On Thursday, eight people, several of whom have worked for Gupta companies, appeared in a Bloemfontein court in connection with an investigation into the siphoning off of public money from the Vrede dairy farm.
Among the eight were Varun Gupta, who was an executive director of the family’s Shiva Uranium firm. Duduzane Zuma was a fellow director of Shiva.
This week the Hawks raided Gupta properties in Joburg in connection with the Estina investigation.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has also joined calls for the government and President Cyril Ramaphosa to speed up the arrest of all those involved in the Estina scandal and all other state capture-related matters.
The foundation’s executive director, Neeshan Balton, said: “We hope to see Ajay Gupta and others in court and hopefully in jail shortly.” –
Additional reporting by Shain Germaner and ANA/Reuters