NEWS & ANALYSIS

No to preferential treatment for Guptas – Ahmed Kathrada Foundation

Neeshan Balton says family represents the antithesis of values our democracy holds dear

No to preferential treatment for Guptas

10 September 2018

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation supports arguments made by Advocate Vincent Maleka against the Guptas participating via video link up in the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

Last week, Maleka, the Commission’s evidence leader, tore into arguments suggesting that Gupta family members be allowed to cross examine witnesses via video call – the decision of which will be made this week.

Maleka also dismissed the idea of the entire Commission travelling to Dubai, simply to allow the Guptas’ participation in the proceedings, raising the issue of the exorbitant cost factor of such an exercise in an already cash strapped South African economy.

The Foundation’s Executive Director, Neeshan Balton, said that the “audacity of the Guptas to ask for preferential treatment, despite being so deeply implicated in the state capture process, shows their arrogance”.

Members of this family have come to represent the very anti-thesis of the values that we hold important in this democracy. We often hear stories of the likes of Mandela, Sisulu and Kathrada – who although being amongst the most notable leaders of our country – refused preferential treatment. Just recently, we were told by a doctor how Walter and Albertina Sisulu, despite their age and prominence, would insist they wait their turn in the surgery queue. These are people who understood that they are subject to the same laws, processes and treatment as everyone else. And then we get the Guptas, neck deep in allegations of state capture, and they still want special treatment from the Commission,” stated Balton.

It is something that should raise the ire of all of those who live in this country and respect not only the rule of law, but the processes of justice itself. We cannot allow the arrogance of members of the Gupta family to make a mockery of the procedure put in place to deal with the mess that they are in part accused of causing.”

Balton reiterated observations put forth at the Commission. “The Guptas want to benefit from the legal processes set up through this Commission, but at the same time want to flee the law. They want to cross examine witnesses, but are they prepared to subject themselves to cross examination as well if they are called on to testify? They want to participate in the Commission, but are they prepared to accept its recommendations while sitting plush in Dubai?” 

However, he said that their behaviour must be juxtaposed against that of the public servants who have delivered very frank submissions at the Commission and have subjected themselves to the process. “We would urge other public servants to take from the courageous example set by Themba Maseko, Mcebisi Jonas, Phumla Williams and Vytjie Mentor, as well as others who will testify in the coming days. In 2013, following the Gupta plane landing at the Waterkloof airbase, the Foundation stated that ‘South Africans need to understand why and how a single family has come to wield such enormous power and influence over sections of government and its administration’. The testimonies provided recently have helped to shed some insight into the level at which the South African state had been captured, by whom and for what purpose. We would certainly hope that other public servants who have information into the workings of the shadow state also speak out.”

Balton said that the importance of not backing down in the fight against state capture was becoming increasingly apparent. “Reports are suggesting that there is a fight back strategy being put in place by those who were at the helm of state capture. South Africans need to remain guarded – not only against the likes of the Guptas who still seem to believe that they are above the law – but also against those who remain in South Africa and want to continue destabilising our country for their own aggrandisement.”

Issued by Zaakirah Vadi, Communications Officer, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, 10 September 2018