(This article was first published on 14 April 2018 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly regional newspaper distributed in the Western Cape, South Africa.)
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
The South African businessman who circulated a video himself chatting to on-the-run Indian businessman Ajay Gupta remains in Dubai police custody.
Justin van Pletzen was still being detained yesterday, said Ndivhuwo Mabaya, spokesman for the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco). It remained unclear why he was being held and a court date has not yet been confirmed.
“Justin is in custody of Dubai police. We will know the charge when he appears in court,” said Mabaya.
“He has all the support he has requested. His brother is in contact with the rest of the family, the brother is also working in Dubai.”
Van Pletzen posted a video online in which he asks Gupta when he was planning to return to South Africa where he is wanted for alleged corruption.
“Are you going back to South Africa? The country’s looking for you,” Van Pletzen says in the video.
Gupta replies: “They’re not giving a reply. The day they give a reply, I’ll go there.”
Van Pletzen adds: “They’re looking for you, sir, they’re looking for you.”
Local news website Times Select reported that Van Pletzen’s brother Sebastian said he was apparently arrested for a video recording.
“Yes, there is an investigation by UAE authorities, because a law on videoing people in that country has been broken, but I can assure you my brother has not been arrested or charged,” said Sebastian.
He added: “He is co-operating with the Dubai authorities in their investigation. Maybe there will be charges but maybe, and we are hopeful, there won’t.”
Van Pletzen, a father of two young children, has regularly been traveling between Dubai and South Africa. On his Facebook page he posted pictures of his family holiday at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve in the Western Cape in January.
Van Pletzen regularly posted pictures of his two children with messages of how he misses them.
“Time travel… teleport me home please so I can hug these two.. pretty please,” he posted with one photograph.
Friends have meanwhile praised Van Pletzen for tracking down Gupta whom South African police have wanted to arrest for months.
“Turning into some kind of a legend here back home! I salute you,” wrote Johan Kriel on his Facebook profile shortly after Van Pletzen posted the video on April 4.
In that video post, Van Pletzen wrote on Facebook: “Please share this widely so that we can get him back to SA so he can face the music.”
“The laws here unfortunately are very strict about getting into a fight with someone. If I did, I would have been given a 50,000 dirham fine or have gone to jail,” he added.
“I’ve been telling everyone back home: the Guptas are here, Duduzane [Zuma] is here.”
Ajay Gupta is one of three Indian businessman brothers who have allegedly benefited from government deals due to their close proximity to former president Jacob Zuma.