Police in South Africa have raided the house of a family ensnared in a political scandal involving embattled President Jacob Zuma, arresting one member of the clan.
The state broadcaster SABC reported on Wednesday that a luxurious estate of the Gupta family in Johannesburg had been raided, amid a probe into allegations that the family used their links with the president to win state contracts and influence cabinet appointments.
The raid by the Hawks elite police force on the family estate of the Guptas came a day after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) ordered Zuma to step down as head of state after nine years in office amid a corruption scandal and a stagnant economy.
A dozen heavily-armed tactical police forces blocked off a street leading to the Gupta estate, which has been described by police as a “crime scene.”
The heavily-guarded estate in the affluent Saxonwold suburb of Johannesburg comprises of at least four mansions belonging to the family of wealthy Indian-born businessmen — brothers Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh (aka Tony) Gupta, all in their 40s — who relocated to South Africa from India in 1993 after the end of the Apartheid white supremacy regime.
Zuma and the Guptas — whose businesses range from computers to mining, air travel, energy, technology and the media — deny any wrongdoing.
A lawyer for the Gupta family said he could not comment on the raid and that he had not yet seen a search warrant.
Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi said the raid had been part of an investigation into allegations of influence peddling in the government. The allegations are also the subject of a judicial inquiry on wider corruption.
“We’re viewing this investigation in a very serious light. We’re not playing around,” Mulaudzi said.
He declined to give details of who and what was seized or if the business premises of the Guptas would also be raided, saying a full statement would be released later on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Zuma is facing mounting pressure to resign.
The ANC said on Tuesday that it had decided to “recall” Zuma, meaning a removal from office.
Party officials said he had been handed an order from the ANC to resign as head of state.
ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule, however, said the party’s national executives were undecided on when Zuma should resign.
Zuma was replaced as the ANC leader in December last year by his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, but he has so far resisted calls to resign as president.
Ramaphosa is most likely to become the next president of South Africa.
By Africafrique and agencies