Guptas, Gigaba caught in dodgy SA citizenship claims

By Quinton Mtyala | IOL |

 The Hawks say they have not received any instruction to investigate allegations that Malusi Gigaba personally granted the Guptas permanent citizenship in South Africa, despite their application being turned down.

Malusi Gigaba at a news conference in Pretoria, South Africa, after he was announced as the new finance minister by president Jacob Zuma, Friday, March 31, 2017 replacing sacked minister Pravin Gordhan. The firing of Gordhan on Friday sent the currency tumbling by close to 5 percent and brought fresh anger at Zuma as a split in the ruling party deepened. (AP Photo)

This came as the EFF on Monday released a letter they claimed was proof that Gigaba had, while the Home Affairs minister, flouted the country’s immigration laws to accommodate the Guptas’ application for permanent residency after they had failed requirements.

“At the moment, the issue rests with the SAPS. The SAPS has to contact the NPA and look at the legal implications of the issue and, based on the crime priority of the matter, the acting national commissioner will decide on the final outcome,” said Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi last night.

The Hawks have so far confirmed that they have opened an inquiry into the authenticity of the leaked Gupta e-mails, which have detailed various incidents of the politically connected family’s meddling with the government and parastatals, and the awarding of tenders.

On Monday, the EFF said they would challenge, in court, the granting of citizenship to five members of the Gupta family in May 2015. In a letter dated January22, 2015, from the Department of Home Affairs, the application for naturalisation was rejected.

According to the letter, the five had jointly applied to be naturalised as South African citizens on June3, 2013 but according to “GG Hlatshwayo”, writing on behalf of Department of Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni, their application was rejected.

The reason for the rejection was that they had not been physically resident in South Africa continuously for five years, and had spent more than 90 days outside the country.

In the letter, the Guptas were told they would qualify to make another application on December23, 2015.

But four months after the letter of rejection, Gigaba, now the finance minister, personally addressed a letter to “Mr AK Gupta”, stating that after “careful consideration” their application had been approved. “I have decided, by the virtue of the powers vested in me under section 5(9)a of the South African Citizenship Amendment Act, 2010 to waive the residential requirements in regards to your application for naturalisation and grant you early naturalisation,” wrote Gigaba.

In April last year, the DA’s spokesperson on Home Affairs, Haniff Hoosen, questioned Gigaba in Parliament over the granting of citizenship to the Guptas and whether there had been the exceptional circumstances.

Correspondence received from the Department of Home Affairs in October last year stipulates that under exceptional circumstances, the minister may grant a certificate of naturalisation to an applicant who does not comply with the requirements.

The motivation submitted by the Gupta family for these exceptional circumstances sighted their company Oakbay Investments and other interests, supporting documents submitted including Department of Trade and Industry company registration.

The correspondence concludes that their application reflects on the employment of approximately 7000 employees, and that the Gupta family contributed to the economy of South Africa.

These arguments were tabled as significant reasoning to provide substantive grounds for consideration of their application for naturalisation under exceptional circumstances, as stipulated in section 5(9) of the Citizenship Act.

Hoosen said that despite the reasoning cited by the minister, it could be argued that he had acted unfairly in granting the citizenship.

“What is quite clear is that whenever there is favourable treatment towards this family, current legislation has been used to hide any wrongdoing. Given the pressure on the public protector to investigate state capture, the granting of their citizenship must also be included,” said Hoosen.

He said any proof of wrongdoing would warrant the citizenship being revoked.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said he knew of no other exceptional circumstance where the minister personally intervened to waive the requirements of citizenship for individuals or a family.

“There’s nothing exceptional about these people, except that they’ve got an exceptional relationship with Gigaba, which is based on corruption,” said Ndlozi.

He said the EFF would challenge Gigaba’s decision in court over its “irrationality”.

The chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on Home Affairs, Lemias Mashile (ANC), said he had not seen the letter of rejection to the Guptas application, and that the EFF were just “politicking”.

Neither Gigaba nor his spokesperson responded to calls seeking comment.

The latest developments come as the EFF on Friday laid a criminal case against Gigaba, whom it alleged was at the centre of corruption in the procurement of diesel locomotives by Transnet.