Ajay Gupta Brothers

Putting the handcuffs on Ajay Gupta could prove to be a difficult task – Photo by Gallo Images / Business Day / Martin Rhodes

Former friends are turning their backs on the Gupta family

As the old saying goes: When days are dark, friends are few.

Ajay Gupta Brothers

Putting the handcuffs on Ajay Gupta could prove to be a difficult task – Photo by Gallo Images / Business Day / Martin Rhodes

Local politicians and business associates are distancing themselves from the infamous Gupta family, as legal probes into the clan’s conduct intensify.

The Gupta family need no introduction. Their dubious and downright deceitful dealings threatened to tear South Africa asunder towards the end of former president Jacob Zuma’s tenure.

How one family could become so powerful is still a hot topic. Simply put, in the dark underworld of money, corruption and nepotism, powerful political allies unlocked the treasure trove to state coffers.

The Gupta family in South Africa

At one time the Gupta family were almost untouchable. Their close relationships with high ranking political officials, stretching from low-level law enforcement agencies, right up to Msholozi himself, made them immune to persecution.

But, eventually, infighting along financial and political lines got too much for Ajay, Atul and Tony. They high-tailed out of South Africa amidst raids on the Saxonwold Estate; the unholy Zupta alliance connected with state-capture and everything unethical was blown wide open for the whole world to see.

Of course, there were still some political pals who tried to downplay their links with the Gupta clan. There were state-owned enterprises which defended Gupta kickbacks – here’s looking at you Brian Molefe.

Slowly but surely, however, all the friends and age-old compatriots have turned away from South Africa’s naughtiest family. It’s probably got to do with the old adage ‘when days are dark, friends are few’.

Gupta buddies: Only there for the good times

And days are most certainly dark for the Gupta family. They’re on the run, hiding out in Dubai or India. The Hawks have recently announced that extradition arrangements are underway; that their self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates would soon come to an end.

Ajay Gupta is public enemy number one. His cosy relationship with Duduzane Zuma, the former president’s son, has been well documented. They both stand accused on charges of corruption relating to state capture.

Whether Ajay and Duduzane are still on friendly terms is not known – but the list of witnesses offering up testimonies at the Gupta naturalisation hearing sure does tell a story.

According to Times Live, current South Africa home affairs minister, Malusi Gigaba, is due to take the stand. He’s in the proverbial hot seat for snuggling up to the Gupta’s and getting them a residential pass in sunny South Africa.

Sure, he’ll have to face some tough questions – but he looks ready to squeal on his former buddies.

Former Gupta business associates, Ashu Chwala and Nazeem Howa, are also set to take the stand. It’s doubtful they’d still try and sing a wholesome song.

ANN7 and The New Age disaster

Even old pal, Mzwanele Manyi, is unhappy with the Gupta family. After buying the New Age newspaper and ANN7 television show, in yet another dubious deal which probably scored the family, and Manyi, a pretty penny – the scorned broadcaster has been left fuming.

Manyi tried to save the newspaper, even changed its name – but it still folded. ANN7 isn’t doing much better, and Manyi is blaming the Guptas, saying:

“Even if you place a bottle of milk near the Guptas, it will turn sour.”

According to The Citizen, Manyi went on to add that his newly gained broadcasting empire is being sabotaged by both internal and external forces.

What will JZ do?

Even the big man himself, Msholozi, Jacob Zuma, is being offered a deal, that he is no doubt mulling over. According to The Citizen, Zuma has been given a ‘get out of jail free’ card – all he has to do is turn on the Guptas.

While Zuma is currently busy with his own legal battles regarding corrupt undertakings with Shabir and the shaky arms deal, the heat may be getting to the former President. Would he turn on his former best friends?