The Guptas: A dummy’s guide

View the updated version here.

Industrialists. Newspaper owners. And friends with the president and his family. These are the Gupta brothers, who are said to have benefitted from their close relationships with the first family.

A year ago you probably had never heard of the Guptas. But they're practically household names now, after repeated exposés, started by the Mail & Guardian.

But where did they come from?

Ajay, Atol and Rajesh Gupta came to South Africa from Saharanpur, India, sent by Shiv Kumar, their businessman father, to explore business opportunities in the country. Atul was the first to arrive in 1993 and was later followed by his brothers. Rajesh was the last to arrive in 1997.

Soon after their arrival they established Sahara Computers, named after their hometown.

Recently the Sunday Times reported that the Guptas and Duduzane Zuma — the president's son — were directors and shareholders in a deal with China Railway Construction Corporation in which they stood to benefit from the government's R550-billion rail infrastructure programme.

The Chinese deal follows the controversial ArcelorMittal R9-billion empowerment deal in which the Gupta brothers and Duduzane are set to benefit at least R3,2-billion if the deal goes through.

With their high-profile and politically-connected business interests, the family has earned the ire of trade union Cosatu, among others. As the storm of controversy around the family continues, we give you the lowdown on who's who in the Guptas, and what their interests are.

The Gupta brothers:

Ajay Gupta — the older brother

Business position: Non-executive chairperson, Vusizwe Media

Five facts

  • He holds no financial stake in the family business
  • As the head of the family he formulates their business strategies and controls the finances
  • He has been described as the final decision maker
  • He was the last brother to arrive in South Africa — he still holds Indian citizenship
  • He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from JV Jain Degree College in India

Atul Gupta — the middle brother
Business position: Managing director, Sahara Holdings, non-executive director, Comair, executive chairperson, TNA Media.
Stakes: Sahara Holdings: 16%, Oakbay Investments: 30%, Islandsite Investment: 25% Oakbay Investments: 40%


Five facts

  • He is the brains behind Sahara Holdings
  • He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from JV Jain Degree College in India
  • He has been described as the "nuts-and-bolts" man when it comes to his role in the family business
  • He is a South African citizen — he relinquished his Indian citizenship
  • He arrived in South Africa in 1993

Rajesh (Tony) Gupta — the younger brother
Business position: Director, Mabengela, director, Islandsite Investments 255, director — Afripalm Horizons
Stakes: 25%: Islandsite Investment's, 40%: Oakbay Investments

Five facts

  • His brother Atul has described him as "very close friends" with Duduzane Zuma
  • Together with Duduzane, they have a joint interest in Mabengela Investments, which is part of a consortium of black investors
  • He is a South African citizen
  • He has a Bachelor of Science degree from JV Jain Degree College in India
  • He joined the Gupta business in South Africa in 1997


Gupta companies

Sahara Holdings


Five facts

  • Houses the family's IT interests
  • It was started in 1997 but only became known as Sahara in 2000 – it's named after their hometown, Saharanpur, India
  • It made a R1bn turnover in the 2010 financial year
  • It has naming rights at Durban's Kingsmead Oval and St Georges Park in Port Elizabeth.
  • It has no formal link to the Indian-based Sahara, sponsors of the Indian cricket team

Oakbay Investments

Five facts

  • It is the family's investment vehicle and operates a number of businesses in the mining sector
  • It's the major owner of Oakbay Resources and Energy
  • Oakbay Resources and Energy together with empowerment group Islandsite Investments 255 own Shiva Uranium
  • It owns a 60,7% stake in JIC Mining Services and holds a 5% stake in Comair, the JSE-listed owner of
  • Under the banner of this name is the Oakbay Trust which holds the family's stake in Afripalm Holdings and Afripalm Resources belonging to Lazarus Zim

TNA Media

Five facts

  • It publishes the New Age newspaper
  • The paper is said to favour an editorial policy of constructive criticism, rather than an investigative one
  • The family has a two-thirds stake through Sahara Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Oakabay Investments
  • The Times of India newspaper, through the Bennet Coleman company, has a 7% stake and an empowerment consortium has 26%
  • A day before the newspaper was scheduled to launch in October, five of its senior editorial team resigned, allegedly due to a crippling lack of resources and a showdown over the launch date.

JIC Mining Services

Five facts

  • A contract mining and services company
  • The family bought it in 2005/06
  • It was owned by Tokyo Sexwale's Mvelaphanda
  • Oakbay holds a 61% stake
  • Duduzane Zuma is listed as a non-executive director in the company

Vusizwe Media
Publishes the Thinker journal — edited and founded by former minister in the presidency, Essop Pahad

Other stakes

  • Afripalm Technology: 12,1%
  • Dunrose Investments 180: 12,1%
  • Pyramid Trading Eleven: 2,8%
  • Comair (JSE-listed owner of 5%, through Oakbay

*An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the Gupta brothers and Duduzane were said to benefit at least R3,2-billion from the controversial ArcelorMittal R9-billion empowerment deal, without the caveat that the deal was yet to go through.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Indians in South Africa, a historical excerpt

In the book, The Indian Africans, academic Kiru Naidoo explores the society of colonial Natal in the late 1800s to early 1900

A colossus with feet of clay

South Africa is disproportionately targeted by cybercriminals. Digital attacks call for digital solutions and technology is a the prime weapon in this fight

The president, the preacher and the great escape

Malawi’s new president was furious after Shepherd Bushiri’s dramatic disappearance from South Africa

Patel: South Africa on target to attract R1.2-trillion in investments

The trade minister says the country is on track to reach more than R1-trillion worth of investments over five years, despite Covid-19 disruptions

South Africa must revisit and refresh its idea of itself

Covid has propelled citizens into feelings of a new shared identity in which the historical force of ‘whiteness’ is fading into irrelevance

Institutions of higher learning should commemorate their casualties

The bust of Matikweni Nkuna at Tshwane University of Technology is an example of how we should honour those who fought for equal access to education

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

More top stories

Shabnim Ismail bowls her way into the record books Down...

The night before Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) final, fiery South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail lay awake pondering how...

Hawks make arrest in matric maths paper leak

Themba Daniel Shikwambana, who works at a printing company, was granted bail and is due to return to court in January

Andile Lungisa: Early parole for the house of truth

Disgraced Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa calls for a change of leadership in the ANC immediately after being released on parole

War of words at Zondo commission: ‘Grow up Mr Gordhan,...

The cross-examination of the public enterprises minister by Tom Moyane’s lawyers at the state capture inquiry went on well into overtime on Monday evening

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…