Bounty on Guptas’ heads raised
On Thursday‚ just hours after the business family's top lieutenants and nephew‚ Varun Gupta‚ appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud and theft‚ the Hawks announced that Ajay Gupta was a fugitive from the law and that his brothers‚ Atul and Rajesh "Tony" Gupta‚ were also being sought.
Ajay Gupta went on the run shortly before Hawks officers raided his family compound in Saxonwold‚ Johannesburg on Wednesday. It was during the raid that officers arrested several of the family's allies.
Varun Gupta‚ along with Nazeem Howa‚ Ashu Chawla‚ Ronica Ragovan‚ Kamal Vasrum‚ and Free State agricultural department officials Peter Thabethe and Dr Takisi Janki Masiteng‚ and national Mineral Resources Department chief of staff Sylvia Dlamini‚ appeared in court in connection with the alleged theft of R220-million from the Estina Dairy Farm project.
The project‚ which Hawks officers allege was the brainchild of Mining Minister Mosobenzi Zwane‚ who was the then Free State MEC for Agriculture‚ was meant to uplift indigent people living in the Vrede and Warden areas. Instead that money was allegedly syphoned off into business bank accounts linked to the Guptas.
Private forensic investigator Paul O'Sullivan‚ on Thursday offered a R200‚000 reward for Ajay Gupta's arrest after the Hawks revealed that he was on the run.
O'Sullivan has also offered an additional R300‚000 reward for the capture of Atul and Rajesh Gupta and former president Jacob Zuma's son and Gupta business partner‚ Duduzane Zuma.
On Saturday‚ Wierzycka took to Twitter to announce that she would match the reward "Rand for Rand".
"So now we have R1-million in the pool. South Africans‚ contribute your spy skills. We need these crooks in jail where they belong. As soon as possible."
Wierzycka was unavailable for comment on the bounty.