South Africa, United Arab Emirates conclude extradition treaty


South Africa signed an extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates, the justice minister said, raising the prospect of the Gupta brothers, friends of former president Jacob Zuma, returning to face corruption charges.

The Indian-born brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh – are accused of using their ties with Zuma to siphon off billions of rand in state funds and inappropriately influencing cabinet appointments.

The Guptas are believed to be in Dubai where they own property and businesses and police issued an arrest warrant for Ajay Gupta in connection with a corruption case.

The Guptas and Zuma, who repeatedly denied wrongdoing, could not be reached for comment.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha told Reuters treaties on extradition and legal assistance were signed with his counterpart Sultan Saeed Al Badi on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi.
“I will not at this stage comment on individual matters,” Masutha said when asked about the Guptas.

A long-awaited inquiry into allegations of inappropriately influencing government decisions, known locally as “state capture”, started last month with witnesses testifying the Gupta brothers tried to bribe or threaten them.

The Guptas left South Africa earlier this year around the time Zuma resigned under pressure from his own party.

Activists, opposition politicians and members of the ruling African National Congress called for an extradition treaty to be agreed with the UAE so the Gupta brothers can be ordered to return to South Africa.
“This means the infamous Guptas are fast running out of places to hide as they can now face extradition to finally answer for state capture,” said Natasha Mazzone, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of public enterprises.