‘Fugitive’ Gupta patriarch on run from law – with bodyguards

Businessman Ajay Gupta
Picture: Times Media

Ajay Gupta‚ the patriarch of the embattled Gupta family‚ is on the run and surrounded by a team of heavily armed bodyguards.

Hawks officials confirmed yesterday afternoon that Gupta was a fugitive from the law and that they had obtained a warrant for his arrest.

Ajay’s brother‚ Atul‚ is also being sought, according to Times Select.

The confirmation follows the appearance of the brothers’ nephew‚ Varun Gupta‚ in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court yesterday on charges of corruption‚ fraud and theft.

The charges relate to the theft of R220-million from the Free State agricultural department.

The case revolves around the Estina Dairy Farm scandal which has embroiled mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane and the Gupta family.

The 34-page indictment was presented in court, where the accused appeared under heavy police guard.

It painted a damning picture of how senior government officials allegedly planned and helped the Gupta family to swindle the state through the looting of public funds.

Varun Gupta appeared alongside his co-accused – and Gupta family lieutenants – Ronica Ragovan‚ Ashu Chawla‚ Nazeem Howa, Kamal Vasrum‚ Free State agricultural officials Peter Thebetha and Takisi Janki Masiteng‚ and chief of staff of the national mining department Sylvia Dlamini.

Howa‚ Gupta‚ Chawla and Vasrum were released on R200 000 bail each.

Thebetha‚ Masiteng and Dlamini were each released on R10 000 bail.

They will appear in court again on August 17.

Gupta‚ asked for comment as he walked back down to the cells‚ laughed and cracked a smile‚ while Howa and Chawla covered their faces.

Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed that they were searching for Ajay Gupta.

“As far as our team investigating state capture is concerned he is a fugitive from the law‚” he said.

“He has surrounded himself with bodyguards.

“We spoke to his lawyers‚ he was meant to be surrendered but never did.

“We have issued a warrant of arrest for him.

“Those protecting him must know they are protecting a wanted suspect. They will be charged with aiding and abetting a suspect.”

He said they had flagged border posts and were hoping to close in on Ajay soon.

NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaka said they were confident of their case‚ “which we can prove beyond reasonable doubt”.

“We have the evidence – and a lot of it – to prove the case and allegations we are making,” he said.

He said the NPA was satisfied that those granted bail would not flee.

“They all have properties and other ties to South Africa. They will remain here, that is for sure.”

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