There was no political interference in the timing of their arrests over the state of capture investigations, the acting head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) is saying.
Media reports earlier suggested the timing of the arrests were linked to political pressure but Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata told the Portfolio Committee on Police that the reason there was a four-month delay before it made arrests of suspects implicated on the case was because the Hawks were waiting for a decision from the National Prosecuting Authority. She said the Hawks finished their investigation with regards to the Estina dairy matter in November last year and that they were awaiting for a decision to prosecute.
“Just maybe to respond to comments made about the state of capture investigations and particularly the claims that have been made in the media … about the timing of the arrests, whether it is linked to any political pressure.
“I have alluded to the fact that I indicated in November already that we finalised the investigation but at the time I never said which part of the investigation or what investigation within the state of capture.
“I can safely say that it was on the Estina matter and we have had to wait for the National Prosecuting Authority to make a decision in terms of what was contained in the investigation.
“So that was only finalised at the time that we were given the go ahead to make the arrests,” she said.
Fielding questions from MPs at the committee, Matakata said she agreed that state of capture investigations should be expedited. However, she asked that investigators, whom she said were working with a team of prosecutors, should be given a chance to do their work.
Following raids and arrests at properties belonging to the Gupta family, she said that one of the suspects, Ajay Gupta, whom she labelled a “fugitive”, was still at large and that the Hawks were working with international agencies like Interpol with an aim of securing his extradition following reports that he could be abroad.
She said, however, that while the Hawks have been in touch with Gupta’s lawyers to have him return to South Africa that she could not divulge further information on the status of the case.
She said, meanwhile, that the Estina investigation was receiving a lot of cooperation as whistle-blowers and other people were coming forward with more information on the case.
The Lieutenant General said, meanwhile, that the Hawks were working hard to contain sensitive information linked to the investigation to ensure that it avoids leaks to the media.