Gupta sanctions in support of SA’s efforts to fight corruption, says US

FILE Former President Jacob Zuma and Atul Gupta

US blacklists S. Africa's Gupta family over 'widespread corruption'

The wealthy, Indian-born Guptas are at the centre of a judicial inquiry into rampant corruption during the nine-year administration of South Africa's former president Jacob Zuma.

It also means there will be further scrutiny of a 1999 arms deal in which Mr Zuma is accused of receiving bribes from French arms manufacturer Thales.

But the trial is now scheduled to begin on Tuesday after the High Court, sitting in the southeastern city of Pietermaritzburg, unanimously dismissed Zuma's application, saying it was "anchored on unsound foundation".

Mr Zuma's legal team argued his court case had been prejudiced by long delays and there was political interference in his prosecution.

Zuma, 77, has been charged with 16 counts of fraud, racketeering, and money-laundering relating to a multi-million-dollar arms deal dating back to before he took office in 2009.

The 77-year-old politician was ousted last year after nearly a decade in power, following a bitter internal battle within the ruling African National Congress party.

The charges against Zuma were originally filed a decade ago but then set aside by the National Prosecuting Authority shortly before he successfully ran for president in 2009.

The South African Department of Justice, meanwhile, has confirmed that SA has approached seven countries for mutual legal assistance to have the Guptas extradited, as News24 reported on Friday.

But political analyst Xolani Dube warned that Zuma could lodge an "urgent" appeal. The ANC party forced him to resign previous year over a separate corruption scandal centred around the wealthy Gupta business family, who won lucrative contracts with state companies and allegedly held sway over his choice of cabinet ministers.

The South African government has welcomed the United States imposing sanctions on the controversial Indian-origin Gupta family for running a "significant corruption network" in the country, saying the interest of justice must not be shackled by any boundary or border.

Zuma is also expected to have two appearances in October and November at the state capture inquiry.

His successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has vowed to crack down on the widespread graft that has eroded support for the ANC, which has ruled the country since the end of the harsh system of white minority rule known as apartheid in 1994.

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