Gupta Sarah Computers SARB
Lazarus Zim, Atul Gupta and Vusi Mavimbela at a Sahara press conference held in Johannesburg, on 19 September 2006. (Photo by Gallo Images/Foto24/Alan Murdoch)
  • The South African Reserve Bank has seized R19.6 million from Sahara Computers.
  • The hardware distribution company, founded by Atul Gupta in 1994, was the infamous Gupta brothers’ first major business venture in South Africa.
  • Before shutting its doors for good in 2018, Sahara Computers had employed former President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, and his twin sister Duduzile.
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The South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) has seized R19,669,000 from Sahara Computers (Pty) Limited – a company which was central to the Gupta brothers’ local business empire.

The forfeiture, gazetted by SARB governor Kuben Naidoo within the Treasury’s powers of the Exchange Control Regulations, was issued on Wednesday. Under forfeiture rules, seized funds are deposited directly into the National Revenue Fund.

Atul Gupta started Sahara computers in 1994, not long after first arriving in South Africa. He was joined by his brothers, Ajay, and Rajesh shortly thereafter. The hardware distribution company is regarded as the Gupta brothers’ first significant business interest on South African soil.

In 2005, former President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, was employed as an IT specialist at Sahara. Two years later, Duduzane’s twin sister Duduzile became a director of the same company.

Sarah Computers, which transitioned from a hardware supplier to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) company, eventually underpinned a sprawling Gupta empire. Three of South Africa’s oldest cricket grounds were renamed after the company following a controversial sponsorship deal.

As the web of state capture began to unravel amid fierce opposition to then-president Zuma’s chequered tenure, the Gupta brothers left South Africa in April 2016. Less than two years later, Zuma stepped down as president and the Guptas were briefly branded as fugitives from justice.

This coincided with the closing down of Sahara Computers. Its 6,500 sqm metre office park in Midrand, Johannesburg, was put on the market for R50 million.

The latest SARB notice comes just days after Self-styled prophetess Mary Bushiri was hit with a similar forfeiture order, totalling a quarter of a million rand.

Bushiri and her husband Shepherd are fighting extradition from Malawi to face charges in South Africa for fraud and money laundering amounting to more than R100 million.

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