The controversial Gupta family are back in South Africa after an extended time away from the country – and their relationship with president Jacob Zuma continues, though it is strained.
This is according to Gupta family spokesperson, Gary Naidoo, speaking to Fin24.
The Gupta family made a highly publicized exit from the country in April.
The exit was painted as “fleeing” in the media, following months of revelations from current and former government officials, claiming that they had met with the family and had been offered different positions in return for their cooperation.
The family is accused of trying to “capture the state”, using their friendship with president Jacob Zuma to secure lucrative contracts and strengthen their business dealings with government.
Despite the allegations and accusations, however, the family has not been formally charged with any crimes.
In the wake of the allegations, South African banks closed Gupta business accounts and other financial groups such as KMPG and Sasfin distanced themselves from the family. The Guptas and president Zuma’s son Duduzane subsequently resigned from their companies in an attempt to salvage the deteriorating relationships.
The Guptas never fled
According Naidoo, the Gupta family did not flee anywhere, saying that the family had gone to a wedding, which is why they were gone for almost two months.
“(The media) made mention of the Gupta family leaving the country,” Naidoo said.
“One of the sons of the Gupta family was getting married and the reason for them being out of the country was for the wedding.”
“They’ve subsequently come back to the country…They’re very much South Africans and they continue to stay South Africans,” he said.
Naidoo said that the family has taken a lot of strain, with many of the children facing verbal abuse at the schools they attend.
The family remains friends with president Jacob Zuma, though Naidoo conceded that it has become more difficult for the family to engage with the Zumas as friends.
“It doesn’t help with media reports tainting the relationship and throwing out wild accusations,” he said.
Overall, the Gupta family is back, and just want business to go on, Naidoo said.