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Gigaba opened SA gates for Guptas

13 June 2017 - 08:16 By GRAEME HOSKEN and KATHARINE CHILD
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Image: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Malusi Gigaba, when home affairs minister, appears to have bent over backwards and acted irregularly to award the Gupta family citizenship, letters released by the EFF suggest.

An immigration expert yesterday called the fast-track granting of citizenship highly suspicious and the EFF says it will go to court to have the Guptas' citizenship revoked.

Gigaba, now minister of finance, and the Gupta family have yet to comment on the EFF documents. The Department of Home Affairs says it is trying to verify their authenticity, but The Times has located correspondence among the thousands of leaked Gupta e-mails that support their authenticity.

One of the letters released by the EFF, which appears to bear Gigaba's signature, is dated May 30 2015. It purports to show Gigaba writing to Ajay Gupta to tell him that the family's representations had resulted in their application for citizenship being successful.

"I have decided by the virtue of the powers vested in me under the South African Citizenship Amendments Act to waive the residential requirements in regards to your application for naturalisation and grant you early naturalisation."

But five months earlier the then director-general of Home Affairs, GG Hlatshwayo, had written to the family refusing their application on the grounds that they had not lived in South Africa for the required five years. That letter was also released by the EFF yesterday.

The letter allegedly sent by the remarkably accommodating Malusi Gigaba to the Gupta family
The letter allegedly sent by the remarkably accommodating Malusi Gigaba to the Gupta family

The correspondence followed an application for citizenship in 2013 from Ajay Gupta; his wife, Shivani; his mother, Angoori and their two sons, Kamal and Surya Singhala.

The Gupta e-mail leaks over the past three weeks have painted an increasingly detailed picture of the relationship of Gigaba to the Gupta family. Gigaba has vehemently denied playing a role in the capture of the South African state but the EFF release yesterday raises more questions about him.

EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said: "This is proof that the Guptas are not attempting to capture the state but have already captured it - and all its leaders. This shows that everyone is already dancing to their tune."

Varun Gupta received his naturalised citizenship papers seven months after his uncle and aunt.

The Times has discovered within the leaked Gupta e-mails a stream of correspondence between the Guptas' trusted business associate, Ashu Chawla, and several senior Home Affairs officials in April 2015, shortly before the purported Gigaba letter.

These include mails in which the family is urged to write personally to Gigaba and to explain to him the socioeconomic impact the family had had in South Africa.

On April 29 Chawla wrote two letters to Gigaba.

They are identical but on the letterheads of two Gupta companies, JIC Mining Services/Westdawn Investments and Oakbay Investments.

In the letters Chawla speaks of how the family has made significant investments in the country.

It looks like corners have been cut and favours granted
Leon Isaacson

Chawla said among the family's notable achievements was creating 5,000 jobs and, he said, they dreamed of creating 100,000.

He said the family had invested over R25-billion in South Africa.

Immigration expert Leon Isaacson said the granting of early citizenship to the Guptas was suspicious. He said that, since late 2013, people who wanted to apply for citizenship had to have lived in this country not for five but for 10 years.

"Home Affairs never waives this basic requirement when granting citizenship."

He said he had represented a number of foreign billionaires, who, despite investing huge sums of money in this country, and employing thousands of South Africans, had not been granted early citizenship.

"It looks like corners have been cut and favours granted" in the Gupta case, he said.