Family living unawares on Gupta property caught up in Hawks raid
A family living in a home in Bedfordview‚ Johannesburg‚ linked to the controversial Gupta family says the estate agent did not tell them who the house belonged to.
Situated on the corner of Kings and Van Buuren roads‚ it was one of the properties the Hawks raided on Wednesday. The house is reportedly owned by Ashok Narayan‚ a Gupta lieutenant and former MD of Sahara Systems‚ a Gupta-owned company.
On the property is a four-bedroom‚ peach-coloured house‚ a swimming pool and servants’ quarters. An old BMW 230 belonging to the previous owner has been left on the spacious property. The lawn is slightly unkempt.
TimesLIVE visited the house and spoke to the woman who stays there with her two grandsons.
She refused to be named.
The woman said the Hawks came to her home armed with rifles in the early hours of the morning.
"They said they are looking for the Guptas. I told them we started living in this house last year. When I moved in we were only dealing with an estate agent and I showed them the papers‚" the woman said.
I know I did nothing wrong‚ but it’s awkward. The perception is that you are connected to the Guptas. People are drawing conclusions
According to her‚ she found out about the Gupta link to the house only after she reported to the agent that there were some problems with the house.
"Then Indians came [to the house]. Out of curiosity I asked where their offices are. These guys said‚ ‘Sahara.’ I made the connection. Then I asked them if they meant the house belonged to the Guptas.
"Wow‚ how of all the houses would I end up in this controversy? But at that time it wasn’t as bad as it is now. So I let it ride‚" she said.
She said that after an electricity glitch in the house‚ Ekurhuleni municipality officials came to make repairs. On their billing information is stated that the house belonged to the Guptas.
The woman indicated that there was nothing suspicious on her lease‚ which ran from June 6 2017 to June this year. She showed TimesLIVE the lease agreement.
She noted that the bank she had to make payments to was the controversial Bank of Baroda.
"I want to find out from the [estate] agents why they were hiding who owned the house. They should have told me from the word go, so I can make a decision with all the information‚ not partial.
"Now all eyes are on me. I mean‚ Bedfordview has its own dynamics. You are the only black person on the street and all of a sudden there are Hawks‚ not just police‚ at your door. Then the police next door drove into my yard and started asking‚ ‘Who are you? What’s going on?" she said.
She repeatedly clarified that she had no connection to the Guptas.
"I know I did nothing wrong‚ but it’s awkward. The perception is that you are connected to the Guptas. People are drawing conclusions‚" she said.
The grey mansion opposite the woman’s home is apparently a Gupta-linked property.
"It’s the same yard. We use the same address." she said.
TimesLIVE also spoke to Sipho Shabane‚ a beggar who stations himself on the corner every day. He said he was frightened by the heavy presence of the Hawks at the house.
"I even ran for cover. It was too intimidating. When I got here they were already at the house. I know the family and I have never seen Indians or anything suspicious. But it’s known around here that the house belongs to the Guptas‚" he said.
The Hawks arrested five people in connection with their investigations into the controversial Estina dairy farm project in Vrede.