The Waterkloof Gupta scandal may have sparked what is now national interest into the families dealings with the state, but looking closely at their history and their initial business pursuits in South Africa, Pieter-Louis Myburgh shares how their prominence did not necessarily begin under President Jacob Zuma's tenure.
In conversation with Eusebius McKaiser, Myburgh details the families business history and how they managed to expand.
I did track it back and I start telling the story of this sort of modest family who have a couple of businesses in a smallish city called Saharanpur in India. The father, Shiv Kumar Gupta, ran a couple businesses, one of them a spice import business, another allowed people who subscribed to the Indian government's ration card system to buy basic food stuffs from a market he ran there.— Pieter-Louis Myburgh, journalist
I think the patriarch was quite shrewd in pointing out South Africa as fertile ground for their business to sort of expand their business, and identify business avenues in this new democracy that was gaining traction in 1993 -1994, so the timing was important to point out, that at that exact moment of transition the Gupta's land in South Africa and they immediately appear to start cosying up to the ruling party.— Pieter-Louis Myburgh, journalist
Myburgh explains how the family's earliest attempts at business in South Africa began with Athul Gupta selling shoes from the back of a car.
Athul then recognised a gap in the ICT sector, which is how Sahara Computers was born.
The family was accused of piggy-backing on the name of an already existing company in India.
They to this day stand accused by industry role players and people who occupy the IT space in South Africa of having piggy backed on the name of Sahara Pariwar in India, a massive conglomerate.— Pieter-Louis Myburgh, journalist
He highlights some of the politicians associated with the family since their arrival, including their relationship with President Jacob Zuma and a possible link to Essop Pahad who served under former President Thabo Mbeki's ministry.
The former president said, rightly or wrongly, Pahad thought Ajay Gupta had the skills and knowledge to serve on the board of what was then the International Marketing Council.
Other names mentioned in Myburgh's book include Makhaya Nthini, AB de Villiers and Graham Smith as he draws on an alleged attempt by the family to 'capture' Crick South Africa.
Click below to listen to the full interview to hear about an investigation into the family by the National Intelligence Agency and Siva Uranium.....
This article first appeared on 702 : [LISTEN] How the Guptas built an empire - ' The Republic of Gupta'