From News24CityPress. Story by Erika Gibson and Ferial Haffajee.
At an emotional meeting with his executives on Thursday, Ajay Gupta said he was resigning from his business empire, then he left South Africa for Dubai with his brother Atul, one of their wives and five of their assistants.
An eyewitness said they had enough luggage for 20 people.
On Friday, Ajay and Atul Gupta resigned all their directorships. So did their business associate, President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma.
Family sources told City Press the Guptas’ shareholdings are likely to be put up for sale but for now are in the safekeeping of local executives.
“The entire family is checking out,” one said.
It was a difficult decision for the family, who lived in a compound of mansions in the Johannesburg suburb of Saxonwold.
Nazeem Howa, spokesperson for the Gupta family’s business interests and CEO of Oakbay Investments and its media businesses, told City Press that even the children had been at the receiving end of hostility.
“The biggest impact has been on the kids,” Howa said. “They have been taunted at school and university.”
Ajay, Atul and the youngest brother, Tony, withdrew from public life, and no longer attended big state occasions such as the opening of Parliament.
“The narrative created about them is of a family that pillages and is involved in funny deals with government,” Howa said.
Now they are set for a new life in Dubai, where Tony Gupta has been living for some months. City Press learned that he lives in the exclusive Emirates Hills estate, where the lowest-priced home on sale on property website Bayut.com is a $734,000 US three-bedroom. The most expensive – at $4.9 million – is a fully furnished mansion with six bedroom suites, a home cinema, skyline views and rooms for maids, drivers and watchmen.
Last month, when rumours were published that the Guptas were leaving for Dubai, Oakbay threatened to sue, saying the story was “categorically untrue”.
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