Controversial Gupta family’s house raided in Johannesburg, as Jacob Zuma expected to respond to order to resign

South African police raided the family home of businessmen friends of President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday morning amid a probe into allegations that the family used their links with the president to win state contracts and influence Cabinet appointments.

The raid, which the state broadcaster said resulted in two arrests including one Gupta family member, came amid reports Zuma was preparing to tell South Africa he was stepping down after nine years in office dogged by scandal and economic stagnation.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said Zuma would speak at 8am GMT and satellite trucks were in position at Pretoria’s Union Buildings, the seat of the country’s government. Zuma’s office said there was no “official communication” of any impending address but urged media to wait.

The raid on the Gupta’s compound marks a dramatic escalation in the pressure on Zuma and the political faction around him accused of milking state resources for their own ends.

A dozen officers from the elite Hawks police unit sealed off a street leading to the Gupta home in Johannesburg’s upscale Saxonwold suburb. One officer blocked access to Reuters, saying: “This is a crime scene.”

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 yet to see the search warrant.

Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi said the raid was part of an investigation into allegations of influence peddling in the government. The allegations are also the subject of a judicial inquiry on wider corruption.

“We’re viewing this investigation in a very serious light. 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,” Mulaudzi said.

Private security personnel man the gate to the compound of the controversial business family Gupta in Johannesburg while cars belonging to the the Hawks, The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, are stationed outside, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on February 14, 2018

Private security personnel man the gate to the compound of the controversial business family the Guptas in Johannesburg while cars belonging to the the Hawks, The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, are stationed outside, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on February 14, 2018

Credit:
AFP

He declined to give details of what was seized or if the business premises of the Guptas would also be raided, saying a full statement would be released later on Wednesday.

Mr Zuma was expected to respond on Wednesday morning to an order from the ANC to resign as head of state, party officials said.

The ANC said on Tuesday it had decided to “recall” Mr Zuma, a euphemism for removing him from office, but gave him no firm deadline to resign, setting the stage for a potential fight to wrest him from power.

Police close off roads around the home of the Gupta family

Police close off roads around the home of the Gupta family

Credit:
 REUTERS 

ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule said the party’s national executive was split on when Mr Zuma should step down, although the party expected him to respond to the order by Wednesday.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba told CNN late on Tuesday Mr Zuma was expected to address the nation at 8am GMT on Wednesday.

Mr Zuma’s spokesman could not be reached for comment and there was no official confirmation from the presidency that the address would take place.

A patrol car belonging to the Hawks, The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, is seen outside the compound of the controversial business family Gupta in Johannesburg

A patrol car belonging to the Hawks, The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, is seen outside the compound of the controversial business family Gupta in Johannesburg

Credit:
 WIKUS DE WET/AFP

ANC spokesman Pule Mabe told state broadcaster SABC that Mr Zuma remained “a disciplined member of the ANC and would do what is best for a cadre of the movement”.

Mr Zuma is already facing a no-confidence motion in parliament, brought by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters and set for Feb. 22.

The ANC could throw its weight behind such a vote if Mr Zuma, who has survived several no-confidence motions in the past, refused to resign. The entire Cabinet would have to step down if such a vote went through.

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