An elite South African police unit has raided a home of the influential Gupta family in Johannesburg as part of an investigation into corruption and influence peddling with the government.
Wednesday’s raid in the northern suburb Saxonworld comes as the country waits to see if President Jacob Zuma would resign after being asked to do so by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.
The Gupta family, an Indian-born South African business family, is central to the corruption allegations pitted against Zuma.
It is alleged that the president gave the family undue access to sensitive state information, government contracts, as well as a role in hiring and firing of cabinet ministers.
These accusations became known in local parlance as “state capture”.
Zuma’s presidency has been characterised by allegations of corruption and racketeering in a tenure that has tested both the resolve of the ANC and government to hold its own to account.
Both Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.
‘Not playing around’
Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesperson for elite Hawks police unit, described the investigation on the Guptas as “very serious”.
“We’re not playing around in terms of making sure that those who are responsible in the so-called ‘state capture’ take responsibility for it,” Mulaudzi told local media.
Two family members have been reportedly arrested.
The move to tackle the Guptas has been widely lauded, though analysts and activists say that the fight against corruption has only just begun.
“I hope this does reflect a change of attitude on part of the state to go after the most obvious and egregious forms of organised crime, Eric Pelser of the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria, told Al Jazeera.
“The Guptas are the symbol of high-level corruption. Without taking on Guptas there can be no serious attempt on tackling high-level corruption in South Africa,” Pelser added.
Similarly, Moleko Phakedi, deputy general of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), said they were encouraged by the raid. He, too, told Al Jazeera that the action should not end with the Guptas.
“We have decried the lack of action by the Hawks, and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and it is encouraging to see the raid. It must not stop at the raid of the Guptas.
“There has been overwhelming evidence of the crimes they have committed – the Gupta leaks, the public protector’s report. We are encouraged. We want to see other political heavyweights, who have also had their hands in the cookie jar, arrested,” Phakedi added.
On Monday, the ANC asked Zuma to step down as president, but his refusal to do so has left the country in a political conundrum.
Officials said that the president was expected to respond to the request from the ruling party later on Wednesday.
The ANC does not have the power to force Zuma out of office, which means that should the party push for his removal, they would have to call for a vote of no confidence in parliament.
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