The Democratic Alliance (DA) has confirmed that a document purported to be an indictment against the Gupta family and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane is actually a “guideline” the party gave to the Hawks when it filed a complaint against the Estina dairy farm in 2017.
The document has been linked to the Sunday Times’s front page story over the weekend, which reported that an indictment, with similar allegations to the DA document, had been made against the Guptas, Zwane and their associates.
The Sunday Times did not respond to questions on whether its story was based on the DA draft document or a different indictment sheet.
It is unclear how the document, circulated widely on social media on Monday, was then claimed to be a legitimate indictment.
Glynnis Breytenbach, a DA MP and the shadow minister of justice, said that the document was drafted when the party presented evidence to the Hawks to open an investigation into a dairy farm in Vrede, Free State.
“It is an indictment I drafted for use by the Hawks as a guideline. It was included in our complaint last year along with all the supporting documents to back up our complaint,” Breytenbach said.
In August 2017, DA leader Mmusi Maimane and Breytenbach handed over a dossier to the Hawks which included evidence – based on the #GuptaLeaks – that the Gupta family and Zwane “stole almost R200-million of public funds” from the Estina dairy farm.
In the press announcement posted on the DA website, the party linked the indictment sheet it had drafted, which is exactly the same as the one that began circulating on Monday.
The DA document was meant to serve as a means of direction to the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate the Estina allegations and begin charging and prosecuting those involved.
The Free State high court issued a preservation order on January 18 which said that assets related to the Estina case are to be preserved and bank accounts of those who unlawfully benefitted from the farm, which includes Atul Gupta, are to be frozen.
The National Prosecuting Authority, however, has denied that it issued the indictment sheet that has been shared.
“We are professionals, that is not our document. We know how to craft these documents,” said NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku.
The Sunday Times reported that “Zwane is accused No1 in dairy case”. The newspaper said that it had received “news of a finalised indictment” which stated that the Gupta brothers – Atul, Ajay and Rajesh – and their associates face charges of money laundering, acquiring and possessing the proceeds of unlawful activity, and assisting others to benefit from unlawful activities.
Zwane is the first accused in the indictment, the newspaper reported, while the Gupta brothers Atul, Rajesh and Ajay are accused number 2, 3 and 4 respectively.
The DA draft indictment makes overwhelmingly the same allegations against the same accuseds. However, unlike the DA document, the Sunday Times story mentions that the indictment alleges that money from Estina was used to purchase a jet and a fleet of luxury cars, and that a Dubai bank account used for money laundering was closed in 2014.
On Monday, the document was circulated on whatsapp. But the metadata revealed that the file was scanned on August 23 2017 – the day before the DA announced it had filed the Estina complaint at the Hawks. An attachment to the papers created from SearchWorks traces back to the name of a DA MP. The digital trace on the documents comprehensively show that they were prepared by the party.
The Estina case has drawn attention because it is the first to directly implicate a Gupta family member in criminal activity. After the Sunday Times published its story on the indictment, the NPA denied that there was any indictment sheet in the Estina matter.
“As the NPA‚ we are on record as saying that the investigations in respect of some of the legs of some of the State of Capture investigations‚ are at an advanced stage. However‚ at this stage they are not finalised‚ therefore you cannot talk about an indictment before the investigation process is finalised… an indictment is a product of a fully investigated docket where you are in a position to say: ‘These are the charges that we are going to prefer against whom these charges are going to be preferred’‚” Mfaku told eNCA on Sunday.”We dismiss the article by the Sunday Times as really concerning and we believe that the people who are their sources‚ are not part of the investigation and the prosecuting team because those teams know exactly where we are at. We have just had briefings with them where these issues were ventilated relating to the approval of the seizure‚” he added.
This article will be updated once the Sunday Times responds. — Additional reporting by Phillip de Wet.