3 arrested in Hawks Gupta raids

Johannesburg - The Hawks have arrested three people following a raid at the Guptas' Saxonwold residence on Wednesday morning.

News24 understands that one Gupta brother and a business associate are among those arrested and more arrests are imminent.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said they were currently conducting ongoing operations at various addresses in Gauteng.

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Mulaudzi said the operations were part of the Vrede farm investigations.

"So far three people have been arrested and two other suspects are expected to hand themselves over to the Hawks," he said.

"Operations are still ongoing and further details will be made available at a later stage."

Raid a sign of 'meaningful change'

While Hawks officials were still at the home, journalists and residents camped outside.

Resident Richard Bottger told News24 that the raid meant "meaningful change".

"I think the raid is fantastic and it feels like real change is happening in South Africa for all of us. If you read The President's Keepers [by Jacques Pauw] it shows you that these guys are merely here to rape South Africa," he said.

Brownwyn Koppela, another resident, said she felt "an enormous sense of relief that it's finally happened".

"But at the same time I feel angry that it has taken so long after damage has been done and you wonder if everything will be put back together again."

Meanwhile City Press reported that former Free State agriculture head Peter Thabethe was arrested in connection with his involvement in the failed dairy farm project in Vrede.

Thabethe was the head of department at the time that Mosebenzi Zwane, who is now mineral resources minister, was the MEC for agriculture.

Guptas' Oakbay holding company also targeted

A senior security cluster official told City Press that Thabethe was arrested on Wednesday morning after a raid at his home in Bloemfontein earlier in the morning.

The publication said it was told by a senior source within the security cluster that the unnamed Gupta brother would be appearing in court alongside Thabethe.

Reuters also reported that police raided the offices of the Gupta's Oakbay holding company in Johannesburg on Wednesday, according to a security guard outside the building.

In January, the Hawks also conducted search and seizure operations at both Free State Premier Ace Magashule's offices and the provincial office of the department of agriculture.

An affidavit has also revealed that Free State's agricultural department - then under Zwane - paid R220m to the Guptas and some of their associates in what the Asset Forfeiture Unit calls a "scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department".

One hundred black emerging farmers were promised five cows each as part of the empowerment scheme, but they never received them.

Gifted to the Gupta-linked Estina in 2013 under a free 99-year lease by the provincial agriculture department, the farm has been one of the most scandalous transactions between the Guptas and a government entity.

The #GuptaLeaks revealed in 2017 how at least R30m paid to the Guptas via the farm ended up funding the family's lavish Sun City wedding in 2013.

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