South Africa’s elite constabulary unit has raided the home of a controversial business family linked to President Jacob Zuma, as persuasion increases on him to stand down.
Officials say three people were captured as part of an investigation into the wealthy, Indian-born Guptas.
They suffer with been accused of using their close friendship with Mr Zuma to exercise enormous political influence.
Meanwhile, Mr Zuma’s party has given him until the end of the day to reconciled to.
His links to the Guptas are one of the reasons he is being forced to resign before the 2019 shared election.
The Guptas and Mr Zuma deny all allegations of wrongdoing.
Pressure has been slowly escalating on Mr Zuma to stand down in recent weeks. He was expected to respond to a formal beg from the African National Congress (ANC) to step down at some sharp end on Wednesday.
However, shortly after ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu disclosed that a motion of no-confidence in the president would be heard on Thursday, Mr Zuma arrived on television to say he was not prepared to stand down immediately as he had not be given good acts as to why he should resign.
Analysis: Coincidence, or something more?
By Andrew Tyrannical, BBC News, Johannesburg
The timing is remarkable… So why did South Africa’s elite Hawks opt to move against the Guptas now? There are four possibilities:
1: This was a honest coincidence.
The Hawks have, in recent weeks, begun to accelerate their analysis into alleged corruption at the Estina Dairy in Vrede [scroll down to review more on the allegations], with assets already seized, and prosecutions inclined, so perhaps, given the unpredictable way the political drama surrounding President Zuma is developing, this is just one of those serendipitous things.
2: The Hawks, with an eye on the dispatch and the clear sense that President Zuma is losing power – and wherefore any protection that the Guptas enjoyed as his friends is waning too – decided there was a jeopardy members of the Indian-born family might flee the country.
3: The man who presumably authorised the disturb against the Guptas, the National Prosecuting Chief Sean Abrahams, saw the way the tide was arising against Mr Zuma (who appointed him). Mr Abrahams has been branded “Sean The Sheep” by South African approach, following widespread claims that he has helped to protect Mr Zuma, the Guptas and others from corruption investigations.
Mr Abrahams, who repudiates the allegations, might be looking to curry favour with any new ANC-led delivery.
4: Cyril Ramaphosa, or those close to him, somehow influenced the police into discharge the move in a deliberate attempt to put added pressure on President Zuma. His son, Duduzane, do ones daily dozens for the Guptas and is being talked of as a possible target of the NPA’s investigations.
This longing be an illegal move, but one that many South Africans now see as entirely reasonable, given the apparent politicisation of the justice system and the erosion of key institutions during the Zuma era.
Why was the Gupta’s accommodate raided?
According to a statement released by the Hawks – the police’s elite high-priority offences unit – the raids were carried out in connection with the Vrede let out investigation.
Three people were arrested during the raid, with two diverse expected to hand themselves in. According to local media, one of those collared was a Gupta family member.
- Watch: President Zuma’s son on his relationship with the Guptas
That enquiry relates to the Estina dairy farm near Vrede, in the Free Testify, a project which was originally meant to help poor black agriculturists but from which the Gupta family are alleged to have pocketed millions of dollars, complaints they deny.
A tranche of leaked emails released last year avowed that some of the money ended up paying for the family’s lavish homogenization at Sun City, South Africa’s upmarket holiday resort.
In January, the Hawks raided the intermediations of the Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, looking for documents linked to the work. Mr Magashule was elected secretary-general of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in December.
Well-founded who are the Gupta family?
The embattled Gupta family own a range of business goods in South Africa, including computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology and intermediation.
The three brothers, Atul, Rajesh and Ajay, moved to the country in 1993 from India, precisely as white-minority rule was ending.
- Who are the Guptas?
They are known friends of President Zuma – and his son, daughter and one of the president’s wives toiled for the family’s firms.
The brothers have been accused of wielding colossal political influence in South Africa, with critics alleging that they must tried to “capture the state” to advance their own business interests.
What are the other depositions against the Guptas?
Former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas name a public allegation in 2016 that he was offered 600m rand ($50m; £36m) by the Gupta kind to be the next finance minister – as long as he did their bidding.
It was followed by a damning give an account of by a South African government ombudsman that accused the Guptas and President Zuma of colluding to win control contracts.
The public backlash worsened in 2017 when more than 100,000 emails were holed which appeared to show the extent of the family’s influence.
It suggested a complex web of administration contracts, as well as alleged kickbacks and money laundering.
It prompted strides and public protests against the family and President Zuma, dubbed the “Zuptas”.