South Africa’s elite police unit has raided the controversial Gupta business family’s home, as pressure increases on President Jacob Zuma to resign.
Three arrests have been made, including one Gupta brother, local media report. Police say two different people are likely to hand themselves in.
the idea comes as Mr Zuma’s own party gave him until the end of the day to stand down, or face a no-confidence vote.
His links to the Guptas are one of the reasons he will be being forced to resign.
The family has been accused using their close friendship with Mr Zuma to wield enormous political influence.
The Guptas in addition to Mr Zuma all deny the allegations.
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The president was likely to respond on Thursday to a formal request by the African National Congress (ANC) to step down.
However, the situation has escalated, with the governing African National Congress (ANC) chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, saying parliament will elect Cyril Ramaphosa as the brand new president tomorrow, if the chief justice will be available to swear him in.
Mr Ramaphosa was elected ANC president in December, replacing Mr Zuma.
Mr Zuma’s term as national president will be due to expire next year.
Why was the Gupta’s house raided?
The chief whip of the opposition Democratic Alliance John Steenhuisen earlier told the BBC the arrests were well timed.
“I think the arrests This specific morning were a warning shot fired across the bows of Mr Zuma’s camp to say in which ‘Look if you don’t step down in addition to resign, This specific could well be happening to you.'” he said.
According to a statement released by the Hawks – the police’s elite high-priority crimes unit – the raids were carried out in connection with the Vrede farm investigation.
in which investigation relates to the Estina dairy farm near Vrede, from the Free State, a project which was originally meant to help poor black farmers nevertheless by which the Gupta family are alleged to have pocketed millions of dollars, allegations they deny.
A tranche of leaked emails released last year alleged in which some of the money ended up paying for the family’s lavish wedding at Sun City, South Africa’s upmarket holiday resort.
In January, the Hawks raided the offices of the Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, looking for documents linked to the project. Mr Magashule was elected secretary-general of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in December.
At the scene: Cheers in addition to insults
By Andrew Harding, BBC News, Saxonwold, Johannesburg
Early This specific morning, as the plush suburb of Saxonwold was waking up – gardeners walking dogs, children being taken to school in 4x4s – armed police arrived at the enormous, high-walled, Gupta compound opposite the lion enclosure of Johannesburg Zoo, sealing off a section of the road, in addition to venturing inside.
Soon afterwards, two luxury vehicles were seen driving out of the gates escorted by police in separate cars.
The Hawks – the elite high-priority crimes unit – confirmed in which This specific was an operation to arrest suspects, rather than to raid properties.
A blue police helicopter swung over the property, as local people voiced satisfaction about the police action.
“the idea’s very emotional for all South Africans. This specific will be about getting South Africa right again,” said Tessa Turvey.
“This specific will be real meaningful change. I certainly don’t think the idea might have happened if Zuma was still president of the ANC,” said a man, walking his dogs.
Who are the Gupta family?
The embattled Gupta family own a range of business interests in South Africa, including computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology in addition to media.
The three brothers, Atul, Rajesh in addition to Ajay, moved to the country in 1993 by India, just as white-minority rule was ending.
They are known friends of President Zuma – in addition to his son, daughter in addition to one of the president’s wives worked for the family’s firms.
The brothers have been accused of wielding enormous political influence in South Africa, with critics alleging in which they have tried to “capture the state” to advance their own business interests.
What are the allegations against the Guptas?
Former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas made a public allegation in 2016 in which he was offered 600m rand ($50m; £36m) by the Gupta family to be the next finance minister – as long as he did their bidding.
the idea was followed by a damning report by a South African government ombudsman in which accused the Guptas in addition to President Zuma of colluding to win government contracts.
The public backlash worsened in 2017 when more than 100,000 emails were leaked which appeared to show the extent of the family’s influence.
the idea suggested a complex web of government contracts, as well as alleged kickbacks in addition to money laundering.
the idea prompted marches in addition to public protests against the family in addition to President Zuma, dubbed the “Zuptas”.