South Africa on Monday said the United Arab Emirates had arrested Rajesh Gupta and Atul Gupta, brothers who face charges of political corruption under former South African President Jacob Zuma.
The two countries ratified an extradition treaty in April 2021, but it was not immediately clear whether the arrests would lead to the brothers’ return to South Africa.
“Discussions between various law enforcement agencies in the UAE and South Africa on the way forward are ongoing,” South Africa’s Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services said in a brief statement, adding that it will continue to cooperate with the UAE.
The brothers are accused of using connections with Zuma, who ruled from 2009 to 2018, to win contracts, misappropriate state assets, influence cabinet appointments and siphon off state funds. Zuma and the Guptas deny any wrongdoing.
The Indian-born brothers left South Africa after Zuma was ousted in 2018. An inquiry was established in 2018 to examine allegations of graft during Zuma’s years in power.
The UAE ratified an extradition treaty with South Africa in April 2021, a move that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government hoped would lead to the return of the Guptas to face charges.
South Africa’s largest opposition party welcomed the arrests.
“We hope that this is indeed the beginning of arrests and prosecution of those who have – locally and abroad – looted our country for years and are directly responsible for the hardships that millions of South Africans face today,” the Democratic Alliance said in a statement.