Acting Hawks head, Yolisa Matakata, says a warrant of arrest has been issued for Ajay Gupta – for corruption not related to the Estina Dairy farm project in the Free State.

Matakata was speaking during a media briefing in Pretoria on the Hawks probe into the failed multi-million rand Estina Dairy project.

Matakata says eight suspects have been arrested in relation to the case and all appeared in the Bloemfontein Regional Court last Thursday and were granted bail.

She emphasised that the warrant of arrest against Ajay Gupta is on an unrelated case of corruption and is still active until it is executed.

Matakata indicated that the Hawks are liaising with Gupta’s lawyers, and that they have written to the crime fighting authority.

“It should be noted that the arrest of the eight suspects was a first phase of one of our broader state of capture investigations, and therefore it is neither a procedure nor a policy for us to prematurely reveal pending investigations and or sought suspects as this will compromise our on-going probes,” says Matakata.

On Wednesday a lawyer representing the Gupta brothers denied that a warrant for arrest has been issued for his clients. Rudi Krause has also rejected the Hawks’ assertion that Ajay Gupta is not a fugitive from justice.

Krause said there is no obligation for his clients to hand themselves over to police. Krause added that he’s been in touch with the investigating officer and could not be provided with a case number.

Authorities in India earlier this week highlighted that it could take more than six months to allow for the extradition of fugitive, Ajay Gupta back to South Africa. Reports in Indian media claim that Ajay and Atul Gupta were seen in various Indian cities in recent days.

The two Gupta brothers travelled to their hometown of Saharanpur in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Ajay has reportedly left the region by helicopter and his current location is unclear. The Indian government says as soon as they hear from President Cyril Ramaphosa, they will begin the exchange process immediately.

Ajay Gupta is wanted by the Hawks in connection with corruption charges. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has confirmed that Atul is challenging the freezing of the R10 million allegedly paid into his account in connection with the Estina dairy farm project in Vrede in the Free State.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said Interpol has been asked to help track down three people, who are being sought in connection with the Estina farm project in the Free State. Mbalula said the three are being sought in China, Dubai and India.

Minister Mbalula says five people are being sought by the police and that three of them are out of the country. He declined to confirm whether former President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane was among the group. But, Mbalula adds that of the three people they are looking for, two are of Indian descent, while another one is of Chinese origin. He says if they don’t hand themselves over, they will be sought wherever they are and brought to justice.

Watch the Hawks briefing: