Gupta family South Africa
Indian businessmen Ajay and Atul Gupta, and Sahara director, Duduzane Zuma speak to the City Press from the New Age Newspaper's offices in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa on 4 March 2011 Getty Images

South Africa's deputy finance minister has claimed he was offered the position of finance minister by a powerful family with links to President Jacob Zuma. Mcebisi Jonas said he rejected the alleged offer from a member of the wealthy Gupta family, calling it "a mockery of our hard-earned democracy". The Guptas have denied the allegations.

As the latest episode of a scandal branded "Guptagate" unfolds, amid allegations of death threats against Jonas, IBTimes UK looks at the wealthy and controversial family, who built a business empire in South Africa after migrating from India in the 1990s.

Who are the Guptas?

In 1993, brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh – also known as "Tony" – left their home in India's Uttar Pradesh state and relocated to South Africa, where they set up the family business Sahara Computers. They now own several businesses across South Africa ranging from computing and media to mining and energy. The family's net worth is, however, unknown. The Guptas live in the Sahara Estate in Johannesburg's affluent Saxonwold suburb, with the BBC reporting there was at least five chefs working for the family, who often travel with bodyguards.

Guptas' links to Jacob Zuma

The Guptas and the then vice-president Jacob Zuma met for the first time in a meeting at the Sahara Estate in 2003. Zuma has often been accused of having close relationships with the Guptas and allowing them to influence the country's political scene.

Some refer to the relationship between the president and the family as "Zupta" by merging the two surnames. The term was first used by the political party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) during a presidential address earlier in 2016, during which EFF members chanted "Zupta must fall". EFF also urged the family to leave the country labelling them as "corrupt people " with "mafia" tendencies.

Allegations of ministers being appointed by the Guptas rather than Zuma date back as far as 2009. Vytjie Mentor, former MP from the governing African National Congress (ANC), also alleged she was offered the position of minister of public enterprises by the family, claiming that Zuma "was in another room" of the Guptas' mansion when the offer was being made. However, Zuma said he had no recollection of meeting her.

Bongi Ngema-Zuma, the presidents's fourth wife, used to work as a communication officer for the Gupta-controlled JIC Mining Services. One of Zuma's sons, Duduzane, is the director of some Gupta-owned firms while one of Zuma's daughters, Duduzile, was made a director of Sahara Computers. However, she later resigned from the position.

In 2013, the family sparked outrage after a plane carrying some guests bound for a lavish Gupta wedding landed at the Waterkloof Air Base near Pretoria, a base usually used by visiting heads of state and diplomatic delegations. The ANC demanded those who authorised the plane to land at the base be "brought to book". The Guptas later issued an apology.