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South Africa set to démarche UAE ambassador on Guptas’ extradition judgment failure

South Africa set to démarche UAE ambassador on Guptas’ extradition judgment failure
The Guptas' mansion in Emirates Hills, Dubai. (Photo: Supplied)

UAE ambassador Mahash Saeed Alhameli will face a démarche from the South African government in the next few days to answer questions about how the State Capture-accused brothers Atul and Rajesh (Tony) Gupta were set free after a failed extradition attempt by South Africa.

Highly placed sources in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) have revealed to Daily Maverick that a smarting government will call Alhameli to answer questions. 

A démarche is a formal diplomatic step to persuade, inform or gather information and usually indicates a problem. 

The governing ANC is close to the Middle Eastern states, especially the United Arab Emirates. The failed extradition revealed early on Good Friday has caused a rupture.  

Government officials say South Africa had been warned by states including Australia that successfully extraditing the Guptas to face money laundering and other charges would be a long and arduous road. So, they prepared scrupulously. “We covered all the bases,” said a Dirco official. 

Teams from the Department of Justice, Dirco and the National Prosecuting Authority went to Dubai on a number of visits since June 2022, when Interpol red notices were issued for the two fugitive Gupta brothers. The UAE claimed that the two had been arrested. 

The authorities never provided details of where and when they were taken into custody. Despite numerous information requests, whether they were in custody or under house arrest was unclear. Sources in South Africa and Dubai have said they were under house arrest. The Guptas own a luxury home in Emirates Hills, one of the jewel estates of the Dubai Emirate. See Jessica Bezuidenhout’s reports here and here

South African ambassador to the UAE Saad Cachalia sent numerous notes verbale (the diplomatic form of communication by governments) for further information from January 2023. 

Closed system

Because the UAE has a closed court system where public access is not allowed except in petty cases, the embassy could not be present but had to rely on communication with court officers, say two sources who spoke to Daily Maverick on condition of anonymity. Meetings were held even as the court set the Gupta brothers free on 13 February on two technicalities which South Africa will now appeal.  

Extradition treaties are complex instruments in law as the country (in this case, South Africa) relies on a foreign government’s prosecutors (the UAE) to make the case. Dubai is a haven for dodgy money. It is widely held that the Guptas were arrested in the first place because the glittering capital is facing greylisting by the Financial Action Task Force, which recently downgraded South Africa. See Victoria O’Regan’s report here

The Guptas are said to have sought sanctuary in the South Pacific tax haven of Vanuatu or to be trying for asylum in the Central African Republic and Cameroon. The government has asked Switzerland whether reports that they had been spotted there are accurate. DM

This is a developing story. We have requested official comment on the démarche from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Vincent L says:

    All South Africans should stop making use of anything UAE! Stop flying Emirates and stop visiting Dubai.

  • Bill Gild says:

    Demarche is a noun, not a verb.

  • Dee Bee says:

    No idea how corrupt Vanuatu is (although the list of people who have apparently taken out their citizenship shows they’re not picky about who they give passports to), but I have first hand experience of both CAR and Cameroon and they’re as corrupt as the day the is long and would roll out the red carpet for anyone who wafts a few dollar bills under their noses. Instructive, those choices, as is the initial bolt hole of the world’s financial laundry and all round corruption enabler, the UAE.

    • Matsobane Monama says:

      Tell us where in the world this doesn’t happen? Remember Cyprus, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Bahamas? Money talks that’s why the world is in turmoil.

  • Anthony Sturges says:

    I am sure that there are some in South Africa who are heaving a great sigh of relief. The last thing they would want is a trial of the Guptas where all the dirty laundry is brought out for all to see!

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Going through the motions to bullshit the citizens

  • Notinmyname Fang says:

    The UAE is a bastion of lawfulness and propriety. So send His Excellency home and let’s see the response

  • Jack Rollens says:

    This is no surprise. South Africa is the most corrupt country on the African continent. Zuma and Ramaphosa are both corrupt to the core. From the local to the national government. Corruption is rampant. The UAE is known around the world as the biggest Money laundering country.

    Why are people surprised? South Africa is a failed state. Soon to be in civil war. 48% unemployment, the most inequality in the world. Ramaphosa with 4 million US dollars in his couch. Zuma’s sister the head of a tobacco mafia.
    Please, wake up

  • Ingrid Kemp says:

    and our Government is naive to believe that the UAE and, for that matter, Russia & China are interested in a mutually beneficial relationship.

  • William Dryden says:

    I bet a few government officials/Ministers are breathing a sigh of relief now that the Gupta’s have been set free by the UAE.

  • rocheburgers says:

    I don’t believe that there is a single country on the planet that takes South Africa seriously.

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