Gupta family is a wealthy Indian-born family with business interest in South Africa, whose most notable members are brothers: Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta.
The family owns a business empire in different industries including ICT, mining, media, engineering, real estate and leisure. Their holding company is Oakbay Investments Ltd, established in 2006.
They migrated from Uttar Pradesh, India to South Africa in 1993 to establish Sahara Computers and Sahara Systems Ltd, the former being a hardware distribution company at the time. Sahara computers is now an ICT solutions provider. In mining, the family’s investment include:
- Oakbay Resources and Energy– a mining and processing company that supplies products such as gold, uranium, platinum, coal, and diamonds, as well as conducting trackless/mechanised mining, track bound mining, breast mining, down-dip mining, and open-pit gold operation.
- Tegeta Exploration and Resources — coal mining and exploration company.
- Westdawn Investments Ltd (tradename: JIC Mining Services) — a contract mining company.
- Black Edge Exploration.
- VR Laser Services— a steel-plate processing centre for the mining, rail, transport, and defence industries.
Also, they have substantial media interest and real estate in South Africa. The former through TNA Media(The New Age, a national daily newspaper) and Infinity Media (a news channel) and the latter through Islandsite Investments 180, which holds various properties located in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Rustenburg, and Welgevonden, among others.
The family is based at the Sahara Estate in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, a compound comprising at least four mansions, as well as in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Recently, the Gupta family has been the focus of extensive international scrutiny and caused much political controversy as result of their close ties to former President Jacob Zuma, before and during his Presidency. Reports state that the Gupta brothers used their closeness to former president Jacob Zuma to carry out a wide range of irregular deals totalling billions of rand.
The Guptas and the former SA president first met at a function hosted by the Guptas in 2003 at their Sahara Estate and since then the family had been involved in events involving Zuma and his family. The family is also known to have been a supporter of Zuma during his power struggle for leadership of the ANC with then president Thabo Mbeki in 2005.
Moreover, the family had employed the former president wife, Bongi Ngema-Zuma; one of his sons, Duduzane Zuma who was a director in a number of Gupta-owned firms and his daughter, Duduzile Zuma, was made a director of the Gupta-owned Sahara computers in 2008. Both have resigned from all positions held Gupta-owned businesses.
In 2016, a series of allegations of the Guptas’ influence over appointments to the South African Cabinet came to the fore. Former ANC MP, Vytjie Mentor claimed that in 2010 the Guptas had offered her the position of Minister of Public Enterprises, provided that she arranged for South African Airways to drop their India route, allowing Gupta-linked Jet Airways to take the route. Likewise the Deputy Finance Minister, Mcebisi Jonas confirmed media reports that he had been offered the ministerial position by the Guptas shortly before the disastrous dismissal of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015.
Additionally, in May 2017, a number of emails were leaked to the public from the Guptas and their associates implicating them in efforts to appoint government ministers and heads of government owned companies in addition to coordinating activities with political figures associated with President Zuma for their own personal gain.
Furthermore, the family’s former bodyguards asserted to seeing important government officials, such as Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the COO of the state broadcaster, the SABC, and large amounts of money in cash moving out of the Gupta’s Saxonwold estate. They also stated that Zuma while in Office was visited by Ajay Gupta up to three times a week until 2015 at the presidential guest house in Pretoria.
However, all these allegations were always denied either by the Gupta Family or government officials.
In June 2021, the Investigating Directorate (ID) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa asked Interpol to issue Red Notice International Arrest Warrants for Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta, and their wives Chetali and Arti. Also, they were accused of siphoning billions of rand from state and parastatal institutions. The money was allegedly laundered and distributed through a scheme of transactions into and through different bank accounts of the company.
In 2016, the Gupta family was worth $800 million dollars making them the seventh richest family in South Africa.