Gigaba set to strip Ajay of SA residency - for real
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has initiated a process to revoke the permanent residency of Ajay Gupta as the net closes on the controversial Gupta brothers.
The Sunday Times can today reveal that Gigaba has instructed his director-general, Mkuseli Apleni, to investigate how Ajay obtained residency and seek legal advice about withdrawing it.
This was after Gigaba met President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday to discuss his contradictory statements on Atul Gupta's citizenship and inform him of his intention to act against Ajay.
Should the department revoke Ajay's residency, he would among other things lose his South African ID and his right to open a bank account or apply for loans - which would make it difficult for him to function.Craig Smith, the leading immigration lawyer at Craig Smith & Associates, said South African authorities could still seek to extradite Ajay to face criminal charges. "It would not be a defence to a person being sought to be extradited that they are not a citizen or permanent resident of the requesting state, to avoid extradition in this case."
Gigaba's latest move is seen as a strategy to distance himself from the Guptas after his blunder during a media conference on Tuesday when he claimed neither Ajay or Atul were citizens. Apleni has since clarified that Gigaba was wrong and Atul is a citizen.
The decision comes as the Hawks have confirmed that Ajay is a fugitive wanted on fraud and corruption charges in relation to the attempted bribery of former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas in 2015.
Gigaba's spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete confirmed that Gigaba had spoken to Ramaphosa about "the possibility of revoking Ajay's permanent residency".
"Since then he has instructed the DG to investigate the legal environment for that to happen."
Tshwete said Gigaba instructed Apleni to begin the process on Friday morning. The Department of Home Affairs would make a strong argument that Ajay was on the run, which would give it sufficient grounds to revoke his permanent residency.In terms of the law, there are four main reasons that can be relied on to revoke a permanent residency permit. These include having a conviction for a serious criminal offence or an offence in terms of the Immigration Act.
The Sunday Times previously reported that the Hawks were relying on Interpol to intercept Ajay abroad.
Tshwete denied that Gigaba's move to revoke Ajay's residency was aimed at countering charges that he is a Gupta lackey. "As far as the minister goes, if the Guptas are standing between him and the law, the law is going to win 50 times over," Tshwete said.
That Gigaba was close to the Guptas was a "politically driven narrative". He was looking forward to the inquiry into state capture so he could be cleared of any perception he had done favours for the Guptas, Tshwete said.
This week, two EFF MPs were kicked out of parliament by Speaker Baleka Mbete for calling Gigaba a "pathological liar". Mbuyiseni Ndlozi refused to withdraw his remark and was booted out. He was followed by EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu.
Tshwete said Gigaba's mistake about Atul not being a citizen was based on incorrect information at his disposal. - Additional reporting by Siphe Macanda