South Africa and United Arab Emirates have finally signed mutual assistance and extradition treaties that they have been negotiating since 2010.
The Treaties will enable the two countries to assist each other in the investigation and prosecution of crimes through mutual legal assistance and the extradition of fugitives.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha and his United Arab Emirates counterpart Sultan Saeed Al Badi signed treaties in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
When world prosecutors met in Johannesburg earlier this month the NPA had bilateral meetings including with the UAE. Now that the countries have signed extradition and mutual assistance.
The most immediate case that many eyes will be on is the Gupta brothers who are known to shuttle between that country and India.
The Department of Justice says it is currently negotiating similar treaties with three other countries in line with its Annual Performance Programme.
“The treaties will enable the two countries to assist each other in the investigation and prosecution of crimes through mutual legal assistance and the extradition of fugitives,” it added.
One of the three Gupta brothers, Ajay, who now lives in Dubai, has been declared a “fugitive from justice” and is being sought by South African police over alleged graft.
The Indian-born Gupta brothers, who are among South Africa’s richest people, are being investigated by police over corruption allegations.
A public inquiry opened last month into alleged corruption under scandal-tainted former president Jacob Zuma, who is accused of overseeing widespread graft during his nine-year reign.
The brothers are at the centre of the probe.
The investigation is looking into allegations that Zuma organised the systematic plunder of government coffers by the Guptas and allowed them to choose ministers in a scandal known as “state capture”.
A former minister, a government and ex-ANC lawmaker have given damning testimonies against the Guptas at the inquiry.
Two of the brothers said they wanted to answer those allegations, but on condition they give their evidence from Dubai via video link because they feared being arrested.
But the commission’s chief, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo rejected their application to participate in the inquiry from abroad.
In April UAE authorities arrested a South African man after he filmed Ajay Gupta in Dubai and posted the clip on social media. He was freed a few hours later.
South Africa said the extradition talks with the UAE have been in the making for the past eight years.
Indian tax officials are also investigating the Gupta brothers in their former home town, as part of a money laundering probe. -Additional reporting by AFP