Parliament continues investigation into Gupta naturalisation

The home affairs portfolio committee will begin hearing testimony under oath about how Gupta brothers Rajesh and Atul were granted permission by Home Affairs to become South African citizens, in an investigation that might provide additional support to the Zondo commission of inquiry.

The committee will hear evidence from eight witnesses on Wednesday. After months spent questioning the controversy surround the Gupta brothers’ entry into South Africa and gathering information from government officials, the committee has decided that phase two of its investigation — hearing testimony under oath — must be initiated to clear up any lingering confusion.

The inquiry comes after questions arose about how the Gupta brothers were granted citizenship, and if the process was above board.

While Rajesh and Atul have been successfully naturalised as South African citizens by Home Affairs, Ajay Gupta abandoned the naturalisation process, and remains a citizen of India. In terms of its own law, India does not allow dual citizenship and requires people to forfeit the citizenship should they choose to become a citizen of another country.

Home affairs committee chairperson Hlomani Chauke has already revealed that the first time a Gupta brother arrived in South Africa was in 1993. The home affairs officials who are expected to appear before the committee to testify will also include former ministers who were in positions of authority when the Guptas applied for work visas and permanent residence prior to their naturalisation application, Chauke said in an interview with Radio 702.

“We have identified a number of ministers that were in charge of home affairs then,” Chauke said.

He also confirmed that the Zondo commission of inquiry had already shared its interest in the Parliament inquiry. Chauke said the recommendations from the inquiry would be made available to the commission.

“The Zondo commissions they have taken an interest in the work that we are doing. They have requested some information that we can help them with and I will take it that moving forward with all of this whole processes they are definitely taking a keen interest,” he said.

“If there’s any way that they will request any information from Parliament, Parliament will be able to provide that information, but again, through our own recommendations.”

The committee is expected to hear testimony from home affairs officials Jackson Mackay, Vusi Mkhize and Cornelius Christians.

The controversy over the Guptas’ citizenship arose when home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba publicly said that Atul Gupta is not a South African citizen, only to correct himself and say that Atul is a citizen, and it is Ajay Gupta who has not been naturalised. The Independent Electoral Commission also confirmed that Atul is on the voters roll, which can only be allowed if he is a citizen.

India’s law states that its citizens cannot have dual citizenship, and Ajay Gupta did not provide evidence to home affairs that he had relinquished his Indian citizenship, thereby forfeiting his bid to be a South African citizen.

Gigaba has been accused of favouritism in the process, but he has denied any wrongdoing. Gigaba is expected to also appear before the committee under oath this week.

Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.
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