If the Gupta empire once seemed an omnipotent and omnipresent blight on South Africa's democracy and governance, it's now certainly crumbling as its companies file for business rescue, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said on Friday.
South Africans are "fierce defenders of justice", Outa said, adding it was simply a matter of time until the empire 'imploded'.
Those involved in state capture must all go to jail. Not only are they stealing tax money, they are ruining the the lives of good people.Ben Theron – OUTA COO
"It was inevitable that the empire would implode. With [South Africans'] support OUTA, other civil society organisations and the media have worked tirelessly to expose and oppose their looting and to see that justice prevail," said Ben Theron, Outa's Chief Operating Officer.
Outa claimed it found records at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) showing that at least eight Gupta companies filed notices to enter business rescue on 20 February.
The companies ostensibly biting the dust, according to Outa, include:
- Optimum Coal Mine (Pty) Ltd
- Optimum Coal Terminal (Pty) Ltd
- Tegeta Exploration and Resources (Pty) Ltd
- Koornfontein Mines (Pty) Ltd
- Shiva Uranium (Pty) Ltd
- Islandsite Investments One Hundred and Eighty (Pty) Ltd
- Confident Concept (Pty) Ltd
- VR Laser Services (Pty) Ltd
Outa said mines "form the core of the Gupta empire" which it said is believed to have been founded on stolen government funds. Government, in reaction, is "now hiking taxes to make ends meet," Outa said.
This past week, employees at the Optimum mine were left in limbo amid concerns their jobs were on the line. Outa said it sympathises with the mine workers and their families "who now face an uncertain future".
"The business rescue practitioners will be crucial in ensuring the future of the mines," Outa said.
"Those involved in state capture must all go to jail. Not only are they stealing tax money, they are ruining the the lives of good people."
"Eskom must be tasked with providing mitigation options to salvage these mines and implement an appropriate intervention to lower the coal bill. Eskom should provide alternative cost-effective solutions urgently," said Ronald Chauke, OUTA's Portfolio Manager for Energy.
"Eskom should also not be allowed to offload these extra costs onto its customers through future pricing applications. The National Energy Regulator should not allow this," the organisation said.