South Africa Police Raid Home of the Guptas, Allies of Zuma


JOHANNESBURG — Heavily armed police officers in South Africa raided the luxury home of the Gupta family on Wednesday as part of an investigation of possible corruption and influence-peddling by three brothers allied with President Jacob Zuma, whom the governing African National Congress has ordered to step down.

The raid, which the state broadcaster said resulted in two arrests, including one member of the Gupta family, came amid conflicting reports of whether Mr. Zuma would announce his resignation after a nine-year presidency dogged by scandal and economic stagnation.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said that Mr. Zuma would speak publicly Wednesday morning, and the news media gathered at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the seat of the national government in anticipation of an announcement. Mr. Zuma’s office said that there was no “official communication” that an address would be given.

The raid on the Gupta compound is a drastic escalation in pressure on Mr. Zuma and those close to him who have been accused of misusing state resources. Members of the family are accused by South Africa’s top anti-corruption watchdog of influence-peddling and swaying the appointment of cabinet ministers.

A dozen officers from the elite Hawks police unit sealed off a street leading to the Gupta home in the upscale Saxonwold suburb of Johannesburg, where residents applauded police officers and shouted at security guards at the compound.

“Finally, something is being done about it,” said Tessa Turvey, who leads the local residents’ association. “These guys must get out of our country. They must leave us alone. They have done enough damage.”

On Tuesday, the A.N.C. ordered Mr. Zuma to step down, giving him no firm deadline to do so but saying the party was sure he would comply and respond on Wednesday.

Mr. Zuma and the Guptas, a family of wealthy Indian-born businessmen, deny any wrongdoing.

A lawyer for the Gupta family said he could not comment on the raid because he had not yet seen the search warrant.

Hangwani Mulaudzi, a Hawks spokesman, said the raid was part of an investigation into the influence-peddling accusations, as well as a wider judicial inquiry on corruption known in the local news media as “state capture.”

“We’re not playing around in terms of making sure that those who are responsible in the so-called state capture, they take responsibility for it,” Mr. Mulaudzi said.

He declined to give details of what had been seized in the raid, and did not say if the offices of the Gupta business empire, which includes activities as varied as mining and media, would also be raided. A statement would be released later, he said.

Signs that law enforcement officers were mobilizing against the Guptas, coming against the backdrop of the wider power struggle involving Mr. Zuma, helped the South African currency, the rand, strengthen against the dollar on Wednesday. The currency has generally gained ground on any sign that Mr. Zuma might leave office.


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NYT > Africa


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