South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have ratified their extradition agreements that will ensure the Guptas are brought back to South Africa to answer to allegations of state capture.
UAE ambassador to South Africa Mahash Alhameli on Wednesday confirmed the agreements were ratified earlier this year in April.
This follows the NPA’s Investigating Directorate (ID) announcement last week that it had asked Interpol to assist with arrest warrants for Atul Gupta, Rajesh Gupta and their wives.
In a statement, Alhameli said the agreements on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates were signed in 2018.
“These agreements have been and remain key to the UAE in promoting judicial and legal cooperation with South Africa and strengthening bilateral relations between law enforcement institutions and partners on both sides,” he said.
He added the extradition agreement was aimed at preventing crime on the basis of mutual respect for the sovereignty of both countries, strengthening cooperation in combating serious crimes, including organised crime, and ensuring criminals were not denied justice.
“The agreement was based on the desire of both countries to mutually agree on principles to strengthen their extradition status in accordance with their respective constitutional principles, taking human rights into account.”
ID head advocate Hermione Cronje said the directorate has asked Interpol to arrest and extradite the Guptas to stand trial in South Africa on fraud charges.
“The modus operandi used in this case appears to have been replicated in other government departments and projects. It is therefore critical that the evidence gathered in this matter is presented to court and a verdict obtained expeditiously.
“It is for this reason that prosecutors have decided to proceed separately against the accused in the country and those abroad, as the process of arrest and extradition may unduly delay the trial,” Cronje said in a statement last Thursday.
The Guptas and their family fled the country in 2018 for the UAE after law enforcement agencies ramped up their investigations into allegations of state capture.
The ID is also seeking the arrests of other suspects who are outside the country linked to a dodgy feasibility study contract for the Vrede dairy farm project in the Free State.