According to a report in City Press, the National Prosecuting Authority’s investigation of state capture and the so-called #GuptaLeaks emails is going in several directions at once, and may ultimately go nowhere.
At the end of July, the Sunday Times reported that National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams had appointed a team of prosecutors to look into so-called state capture crimes allegedly committed by the Guptas.
Public outcry over Abrahams’ apparent silence and complete lack of action against the Guptas’ undue influence over the state and the financial rewards that come with it has been growing steadily.
There has been a mountain of growing evidence against the family, much of it contained the leaked Gupta emails.
The police’s elite investigating unit the Hawks have also been criticised after they said they would be investigating the leaked emails – but only to work out where they came from.
Advocate Malini Govender, the acting head of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) specialised commercial crimes unit, was reportedly meant to head up the new unit and the NPA’s prosecutors were reportedly told to help the Hawks “fast-track investigations”.
NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said the unit – and the Hawks – would, however, be focusing primarily on former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report, which only scratched the surface of the Guptas’ dealings and was published before the leaked emails came to light.
In the absence of a public commission of inquiry – which continues to be frustrated and delayed by a legal challenge from President Jacob Zuma – to examine the case against the Guptas, it’s unclear how much the NPA will be allowed to investigate.
City Press reports that two senior prosecutors told them the emails are unlikely to be admitted into evidence because they were probably stolen. Both the Hawks and the NPA have allegedly expressed concern within their ranks that the emails may have been tampered with, despite the fact that many of those implicated in the leaked emails have confirmed aspects of their authenticity.
Officials will have to obtain copies of the emails themselves through proper legal processes, assuming that the Guptas and the companies they are associated with have not already destroyed all trace of these messages on all their servers.
Associate law professor at Wits James Grant, however, was quoted as saying that the public interest in the case could mean the possible infringement of the Guptas’ rights would be secondary in law. He felt that the state had waited too long to obtain their own copies of the evidence.