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‘Technical issues’ cited as extradition treaty between SA, UAE delayed

South Africa approached the UAE and India for mutual legal assistance to have the controversial members of the Gutpa family extradited to face state capture allegations here on home soil.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Justice Department is on Monday blaming technical difficulties for the failure to enforce an extradition treaty between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

South Africa approached the UAE and India for mutual legal assistance to have the controversial members of the Gupta family extradited to face state capture allegations on home soil.

There’s been a concern that the extradition process is taking too long.

The department's spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said: “Once we have sorted out technical issues on our side, we hope that the UAE Parliament will ratify it on their side. We are working with all authorities to ensure the agreement is enforced.”

WHO ARE THE GUPTA BROTHERS?

For the last couple of years, the powerful Gupta family - mainly brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh - has been at the centre of raging scandals that rocked former President Jacob Zuma's Presidency. They have featured prominently during testimonies at the state capture inquiry.

The family has its roots in Saharanpur's Rani Bazaar where its members are still known as "depot wale" (the father, Shiv Kumar, used to run a small ration depot in the market).

In Saharanpur's Rani Bazaar is a dilapidated old house where the brothers grew up with Agarwal. While the brothers left for Delhi around 1985 to set up their business, their cousin Pradip Agarwal still lives in the same old house. The Guptas are held in high regard in the area.

In 1993, the brothers moved to Johannesburg. During the country's transition from the apartheid regime, they set up and expanded a huge business empire involved in computers, mining, media and engineering projects. Their ties with Zuma and his family have come under criticism, and the resulting scandal has been called 'Guptagate'.

Last month, the US Treasury department's Foreign Assets Control office prohibited members of the Gupta family and a business associate from doing business with the US or any US nationals.

The US Treasury announced that it has sanctioned Rajesh Gupta, Atul Gupta, Ajay Gupta and Salim Essa for their alleged involvement in corruption in South Africa.

This falls under an executive order issued in the United States.

They have been cited for payments on government contracts, bribery, and other corruption claims to fund political contributions and influence government actions.

The US said Thursday's sanctions demonstrated the country's unwavering commitment to supporting the rule of law and accountability in South Africa.

Additional reporting by EWN & Reuters.