UPDATE: Vrede Farm suspects get bail, Ajay Gupta still a fugitive

Photo: The Citizen.

Update, 16 February, 7am:

 

The Hawks have officially released a press statement following their raid of the Gupta compound and their ongoing investigation:

 

The eight are Peter Thabethe (53), – the Head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State, Sylvia Dlamini (46), Chief of staff in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Dr Takisi Masiteng (47), General Manager for District Services in the Department of Agriculture, Varun Gupta (31), Ashu Chalwa (46), a Director at Oakbay Investments, Ronica Regavan (40), a Director Oakbay Investments, Nazeem Howa (55), former Director of Oakbay Investments and Kamal Vasram (38), former Director of Estina (PTY) Ltd were released on bail ranging from R10, 000 to R200,000 with strict conditions.

The bail conditions include reporting to their local police station twice a week, seizure of their passports, reporting to the investigating officer when leaving the area of jurisdiction and not to interfere with any state witnesses. On Wednesday, 14 February, the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Crime Unit assisted by the SAPS National Intervention Unit (NIU) executed warrants of arrests in Gauteng and the Free State which led to five arrests. On Thursday morning, three suspects; Vasrum, Howa and Regavan handed themselves over to the investigating team in Bloemfontein.

Meanwhile, the Hawks are looking for Ajay Gupta for a separate investigation. His lawyers were informed he is now regarded as fugitive since they failed to hand him over.

It is understood that he has personal protectors and they are being warned to either hand him over or they might face charges of directly aiding and abetting the fugitive. Therefore, the Hawks are making a public plea to Ajay Gupta to hand himself over to avoid embarrassment.

The eight suspects are expected to appear again at the same on 17 August 2018.

 

 

Update, 15 February, 4.30pm

The Hawks have confirmed that Ajay Gupta is now being considered a fugitive.

Yesterday, 14 February, the Hawks conducted an early morning raid during which three people were arrested, one of whom is related to the Gupta’s.

Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi told the Rosebank Killarney Gazette that Ajay Gupta is aware there is a warrant out for his arrest and was expected to hand himself over, however, that has not happened.

Minister of Police Fikile Mbabula said in a statement released on Thursday that Hawks were working with the National Prosecuting Authority and so far 13 warrants of arrest have been issued in Bloemfontein and Johannesburg in relation to the Vrede Dairy Project.

“A total of eight suspects have been arrested during the takedown operation; of which two of the suspects are still being sort while three (two of Indian nativity and one of Chinese nativity) are believed to be outside the republic and assistance on them will be sort (sic),” the statement said.

Mbalula added that due to the sensitivity and seriousness of the matters it would not be possible to provide minute to minute updates. However, he emphasised that at least 17 dockets are being investigated ‘without fear or favour and indeed with no holy-cows’.

 

 

Update, 15 February, 9am

At least three Gupta associates‚ including the nephew of brothers Atul‚ AJ and Rajesh Gupta‚ are to appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court on Thursday, 15 February, on charges of money laundering‚ corruption and theft of state money, according to reports.

Gupta lieutenants Ashu Chawla and Ronica Ragovan‚ and nephew Varun Gupta were among five people arrested in raids by the Hawks on Wednesday morning, 14 February.

It has been suggested that two more suspects are expected to hand themselves over at court on 16 February.

 

 

Update, 14 February, 10.45am

Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesperson for the Hawks, has confirmed that the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Crime Unit is currently conducting on-going operations at various addresses in Gauteng, including a residential premises in Saxonwold near Johannesburg.

“The operation is in respect of the Vrede Farm investigations,” Mulaudzi said. “So far three people have been arrested and two other suspects are expected to hand themselves over to the Hawks. Operations are still ongoing and further details will be made available at a later stage.”

 

Earlier, 7.42am

Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesperson for the Hawks, has confirmed the raid, reports suggest, but it is unclear whether or not the Gupta family is at the compound this morning, 14 February.

Rosebank Killarney Gazette at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold where the Hawks are conducting a raid

Posted by Rosebank Killarney Gazette on Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The Gupta family has been linked to state capture involving President Jacob Zuma, one of his sons, Duduzane, and a number of government ministers.

Onlookers gather in the street surrounding the compound. Photo: Tessa Turvey.

According to reports, the ‘State of Capture’ report revealed that the Saxonwold home was where the Gupta brothers summoned several ministers and other high ranking politicians.

The Rosebank Killarney Gazette is currently on scene and attempting to gather more information from Mulaudzi, whose phone is currently engaged.

 

WARNING: Strong language

Also read:

WATCH: DA leads march to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold

Gupta security guards instil fear in Saxonwold neighbourhood

Cyril Ramaphosa to deliver SONA

ANC NEC has recalled President Jacob Zuma

 

https://twitter.com/tndaba/status/963646732251947009

https://twitter.com/Makashule/status/963646199378120708

https://twitter.com/SimplyThandeka/status/963646304265080833

  AUTHOR
Nikita Fernandes, Ashtyn Mackenzie and Laura Pisanello

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