Justice Minister Ronald Lamola on Monday in Tshwane responded to reports that he and National Prosecuting Authority head Shamila Batohi would be in a delegation to travel to Abu Dhabi to persuade the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to extradite the controversial Gupta brothers, who are understood to be living in Dubai.
He confirmed they would be having various bilateral engagements at a United Nations anti-corruption conference in the UAE, and he was already meant to be there himself.
Most of the delegation had already arrived there, he said. He would be joining them after his media briefing, which was called to announce remissions of sentences for incarcerated prisoners.
Parliament ratified a proposed extradition treaty with the UAE in November last year already and Lamola has been in talks with the UAE to finalise the ratification of treaties, mutual legal assistance and extradition between the two countries, particularly after US sanctions were imposed this year on the Gupta family and their business associate Salim Essa.
Lamola said on Monday, however, that the UAE was yet to ratify and operationalise the treaty. He said he did not know what was causing the delay, but the conference was an ideal opportunity to engage with the relevant decision makers.
“It’s not like we are going to Dubai with a suitcase to go and fetch the Guptas,” said Lamola. He said they needed to follow international law and protocol and it would still take time.
The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Lamola and Minister of Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu would lead talks in the UAE, along with other senior members of the justice department in South Africa, to have the Guptas brought to book.
Lamola said earlier this year that the South African government has already approached at least seven countries – including India, Canada, Switzerland, the UAE, Mauritius, the US and China, particularly Hong Kong – for mutual legal assistance to have the Guptas extradited to face charges in South Africa.
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)