Current and former home affairs ministers expected to testify at Gupta naturalisation hearing

14 August 2018 - 20:14 By Thabo Mokone
A number of former ministers of home affairs are expected to appear before an inquiry panel looking into the naturalisation of Gupta brothers Ajay and Atul
A number of former ministers of home affairs are expected to appear before an inquiry panel looking into the naturalisation of Gupta brothers Ajay and Atul
Image: MARTIN RHODES

Former ministers – as well as the incumbent minister of home affairs - have been identified as possible witnesses to be called to appear before a parliamentary committee probing the naturalisation of the Guptas as South Africans.

According to a draft report presented to the home affairs oversight committee on Tuesday‚ former home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi‚ who served in that portfolio between 1994 and 2004‚ has been identified as one of the prominent people who could provide more answers on how two of the Gupta brothers became naturalised citizens.

The home affairs committee's draft report has flagged Buthelezi's successors Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula‚ who was the political head of the department between 2004 and 2009‚ as one of the top people that could be called to testify.

Current home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba‚ currently in a second stint in the portfolio following a brief term between 2014 and 2017‚ was also targeted as a witness.

Senior ANC MP Hlomane Chauke‚ who is also chairperson of the home affairs committee‚ said they were due to meet again on Wednesday morning to finalise the list of potential witnesses and the issues to probe further after receiving the draft report from parliamentary researchers and lawyers.

The committee wants answers in relation to the permits used by Atul and Rajesh Gupta "initially [to] enter South Africa between 1994 and 1998”.

Atul and Rajesh were issued with naturalisation certificates in 2002 and 2006 respectively.

Former senior officials of the department‚ Richard Sikakane and Siyamthanda Skota‚ are also likely to be called to testify - while Gupta business associates Ashu Chwala and Nazeem Howa are also on the radar.

The committee wants government officials to answer questions ranging from the permits used by the Guptas and their family members to first enter South Africa in 1993‚ alleged irregularities in how they obtained permanent residence statuses‚ supporting documents backing claims of investment to the tune of R25-billion‚ and why their applications were "prioritised faster than other such naturalisation applications”.

The committee's report also found that while the Guptas claimed in the motivations for naturalisation that they were making "social investments" and donations to schools in the North West province‚ some of the schools contacted by parliamentary researchers "indicated they never received a donation from Oakbay Group” ‚ a Gupta-owned company.

Of the 76 schools listed as having received the donations from Oakbay‚ only 11 bothered to respond to queries from parliament - with six confirming the receipt while the balance denied receiving anything.

Those that acknowledged the "social investments" listed‚ among other things‚ R1‚000 in prize monies that were paid to leaners who took part in competitions related to invitations to the Gupta wedding.

Other schools received soccer cones‚ hula hoops‚ soccer balls‚ rugby balls‚ soccer shirts and shin guards.

The report stated that during a parliamentary inquiry in May this year‚ some officials from home affairs visited several schools to collect information related to the donations.

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