Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has said the action taken by the United States (US) to impose sanctions against the Gupta brothers – Rajesh, Atul and Ajay Gupta and businessman Salim Essa – would ensure that South Africa’s interests of justice unfold without any hindrance.
On Thursday, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in a statement said it had sanctioned what it termed “members of a significant corruption network” in South Africa. The four are alleged to have leveraged overpayments on government contracts, bribery, and other corrupt acts to fund political contributions and influence government actions.
“[The] sanctions have a direct impact on the financial and private interests of affected individuals,” the South African Justice Ministry said.
“Furthermore, these sanctions will ensure that [Gupta-linked] companies or individuals are prohibited from conducting any business in the USA or with any American company worldwide.”
The ministry said South Africa and the US have a long history of cooperation on criminal justice, law enforcement and mutual legal assistance. Both countries are state parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption and have a bilateral treaty, it added.
“These international multilateral and bilateral frameworks allow law enforcement agencies of both countries to collaborate on matters of common interest like fighting corruption and ensuring that perpetrators of corruption have nowhere to hide.”
In the context of this international and domestic legal framework, the ministry said, the two countries had enjoyed close collaboration on matters of mutual legal assistance.
“Under the umbrella of the International Cooperation in Criminal Matters Act, South African law enforcement agencies have issued mutual legal assistance requests to eight countries around the world, including the United States of America.”
The ministry said Lamola had taken action to ensure that the execution of these requests was expedited.
Lamola said it was of critical importance that South Africa’s young democracy confronted corruption and its antecedent effects expeditiously.
“The interest of justice must not be shackled by any boundary or border and justice must be seen to be done without fear or favour,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has accused President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration of being “dither” while US authorities act “on state capture”.
The DA’s Natasha Mazzone said the party viewed the US sanctions against the Gupta family as a positive step “that could open-the-flood-gates for several others to be held accountable for the crimes they committed at the expense of the South African people”.
“It is however unfortunate that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC government has not acted against a single individual that has been implicated in state capture. Instead, the Ramaphosa administration has awarded those involved in the looting of our state coffers. It is incomprehensible that not a single individual responsible for state capture has been arrested, let alone charged and hauled before the courts,” Mazzone said.
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)