Gigaba visited the Guptas for ‘social cohesion reasons’

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba visited the Guptas for “social cohesion reasons”, but denies they had any sway over him.

“During my tenure, I, at no stage, assisted the Gupta family, or any other private interest group, to capture the state,” Gigaba told the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on Tuesday night.

The committee is holding an inquiry into four members of the Gupta family’s early naturalisation. The committee started listening to testimony at about 10am. Gigaba appeared before the committee shortly after 10pm.

Gigaba said having studied a report of the testimony the committee previously heard: “I am satisfied that it does not implicate me in any wrongdoing.

“It is unfortunate that this issue of the naturalisation of one family, has been used to cast negative aspersions on me,” he said.

Gigaba disparaged an “unfounded narrative” tying him to the Guptas.

Nothing in the emails

He said he didn’t see anything in the #GuptaLeaks emails implicating him in any wrongdoing.

“All I have read is a paragraph pertaining to my adviser, Mr Thamsanqa Msomi, as well as a distorted email which purports to be an instruction from me sent by an administrator in my office,” Gigaba said.

“Since this issue made the news, I have asked him [Msomi] about the said emails. He has informed me that he, indeed, received an email from Mr Ashu Chawla, in April 2015, requesting assistance for visas for his clients.”

READ MORE: Chawla demanded a luxury flight to Gupta naturalisation inquiry

He said the ministry received correspondence on a daily basis, which it forwards to the department.

Gigaba denied that he ever met or corresponded with Chawla — a Gupta lieutenant who is a central figure in the #GuptaLeaks emails and in the testimony before the committee.

Relationship with the Gupta family

Gigaba admitted to attending Diwali celebrations at the Gupta residence and the infamous wedding.

“I had no relationship with the Gupta family beyond that of acquaintances,” he elaborated.

“As a public representative and a politician it is inherent in my role to interact with as many stakeholders as possible, to be accessible to them and to hear their perspectives. It does not follow that I am beholden to someone because I have interacted with them.

“I have attended several functions where the Gupta family members were present in the presence of other public representatives and many other people, including at their home.”

He later said, to questions from Democratic Alliance MP Haniff Hoosen, that he attended the Diwali celebrations for “social cohesion reasons”. One was at the infamous Saxonwold residence and the other at an open field in Lenasia.

He declined to say which other Cabinet ministers were there.

“It’s irrelevant to the naturalisation. It’s irrelevant,” he said in a to-and-fro with Hoosen.

Visits to Saxonwold

Gigaba couldn’t recall how many times he visited Saxonwold, but said it was more than once, but less than five. It was for “just social functions”. He said some of it was before he was minister of home affairs, but could not recall when.

Gigaba didn’t recall any of the Gupta brothers calling him on his cellphone.

He also said he never met a member of the Gupta family outside of South Africa.

Earlier on Tuesday, questions arose about the removal of home affairs official Ronald Steyn from the New Delhi high commission, from where he was sent to Munich.

Steyn dealt with visa applications and testified that Chawla would on occasion call him about it. He would not issue visas if all the documentation were not correct.

Gupta connection

The committee questioned this move, as it seems he was moved to make way for an official who would be more accommodating to the Guptas, Gideon Christians, who had sent his CV to the controversial family.

“It was clear that Mr Steyn’s placement in India was a mismatch and this resulted in strained relationships with the High Commissioner and impacting negatively on service delivery,” Gigaba said.

“I then requested that officials who understand the environment and who had been deployed there before, who would hit the ground running and be able to resolve the problems immediately, be looked into for an immediate solution.”

On Christians’s Gupta-connection, Gigaba said: “It is mentioned that Mr Christians communicated with Mr Chawla as far back as 19 September 2011. This makes it clear that, according to the information before the committee, Mr Christians and Mr Chawla started communicating years before I became the minister of home affairs.

“Now, this information was not at anyone’s disposal at the time and even the security clearance process done independently by the SSA approved a top secret clearance for Mr Christians.”

The meeting adjourned at 4am. The committee will reconvene in early December to listen to Chawla, among others. — News 24

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Jan Gerber
Jan Gerber
Journalist & photographer. Parliamentary reporter for News24
Advertisting

The rule of law in times of crisis: Covid-19 and...

Under a state of national disaster, some rights may be suspended. But it is critical to remember that the Constitution itself is not suspended

Test backlog skews SA’s corona stats

With thousands of samples still waiting to be processed, labs are racing to ramp up testing to help the government gain a better idea of how prevalent Covid-19 really is

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories