There is something strange that seems to be going on in the sale of Tegeta by the controversial Gupta family.
This is according to former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, who said yesterday that he had been tipped off that the buyer was a player in the fashion world.
“We should have our urgency fuelled by these successive disposals within 48 hours of South African assets.
“I am getting SMSes which say the person or entity that is supposed to have bought the coal asset is active in trade with fashion products, clothing articles and shoes.
“What are they doing buying coal mines from Switzerland?” asked Gordhan.
His comments came after members of parliament warned that the Gupta family could be quickly disposing of assets in order to skip the country to avoid being grilled by parliament for their alleged capture of state-owned companies.
The fear was expressed by MPs from across the political divide during a meeting of the portfolio committee on public enterprises yesterday.
The committee had been meeting to discuss the way forward in their inquiry into the alleged capture of publicly owned companies such as Eskom, Denel and Transnet by the controversial family who are close friends of President Jacob Zuma.
The MPs raised their fears in the wake of revelations that the Guptas had decided to sell their mining firm Tegeta Exploration and Resources to a Switzerland-based businessman for R2.9-billion.
Tegeta, a coal supplier to Eskom, has been at the centre of state capture allegations following claims that it received a R600-million advance from Eskom that it used to buy another mining firm, Optimum Coal in 2015.
The sale of Tegeta came just two days after the Guptas announced that they had sold their media products – TV station ANN7 and newspaper The New Age – for R450-million to ally Mzwanele Manyi in a vendor-financed deal.
Gordhan told the portfolio committee that it needed to move with speed in its inquiry.
Floyd Shivambu, the chief whip of the EFF, said the Guptas “can run but cannot hide”.
However, the DA’s Natasha Mazzone pointed out that there was no extradition treaty between South African and the United Arab Emirates.
There has been concern that the Guptas were planning to relocate to Dubai as pressure mounts on them to face criminal charges related to state capture allegations.
The committee is piling pressure on National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete to give them enough resources to conduct a thorough probe into state capture allegations, including the appointment of a lawyer as an evidence leader.