Former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane tried to strike a deal with law enforcement agencies before going on the run this week.
Officials with intimate knowledge of the case told the Sunday Times that “unofficial” negotiations involving the 35-year-old delayed the Hawks’ swoop on the Gupta family on Wednesday — which may have helped the Gupta brothers evade arrest.
Frustrated senior officials in the security cluster admitted on Friday that they had no idea about the whereabouts of Duduzane or the Gupta brothers Ajay and Atul as suspicions grew that they had been smuggled out of South Africa.
Tempers flared in the cluster last week over delays in making arrests in the Hawks’ 17 state-capture investigations, but officials said finger-pointing would undermine the work already done in the investigations.
Said one official: “Duduzane is trying through unofficial means for section 204.” The section allows someone guilty of a crime to escape prosecution in return for testimony against others.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times understands that police are looking for two Chinese nationals who allegedly helped the Gupta family siphon millions of rands from South Africa to foreign bank accounts, including in Hong Kong.
According to sources the Chinese nationals have hosted Jacob Zuma and his wives at Chinese New Year celebrations in Gauteng since 2013.
There are claims that Zuma was to address a Chinese New Year celebration on Friday at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park but his appearance there was cancelled.