Are leaked Gupta emails admissible in parliamentary inquiry?
Johannesburg - How admissible are the leaked Gupta emails?
This is the question that is likely to loom large in the parliamentary inquiry probing the early naturalisation of the Guptas.
On Tuesday, Donald Gumede of the ANC asked Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse's (Outa) Rudie Heyneke, the first person to testify before the inquiry, about the legal status of the leaked emails and if Outa had verified them.
"How can we say definitely this was communication between the different actors?" Gumede asked.
Outa had shared with parliament evidence and documents in connection with naturalisation the Guptas and work permits and visas of employees in Gupta companies.
These, except for some taken from one news website, had been retrieved from the leaked emails.
Heyneke said he was not a legal advisor and that all he did was to present evidence they had obtained
"It will be good for the committee to get legal opinion on that. I'm not at liberty to give an opinion to say use it or not use it," he said.
Heyneke said he had been handed the leaked emails by Outa COO Wayne Duvenage without revealing his source.
"What we did was to contract a reputable IT company to establish their opinion of the mails. They conveyed to us they are authentic. I do not have any report other than verbal that they told us it was authentic," he said.
Heyneke said the committee could put it to witnesses who were still to appear before the inquiry to verify the emails.
"I think that will be up to the committee with advice from legal advisors. If you show the mails to witnesses and ask: 'did you send or not'. That will make a huge step forward regarding the authenticity," he said.
Committee chairperson Hlomane Chauke said the committee will look into admissibility of the leaked emails.
"What we will we do is to deliberate further on issues raised in your affidavit and emails that were extracted. We will look at admissibility of the information," Chauke said.
He, however, said it was important to establish facts and not put officials in a situation where admissibility was really not there.
"We appreciate that you shared with us," Chauke said.
Earlier in his testimony, Heyneke sad throughout the emails Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba appeared popular with the Gupta from his days as a deputy minister when he was invited to events.
"In the Gupta leaks there is not much evidence or documents related to the minister," he said, adding that the chain of the emails made an interesting reading apart from references made about Gigaba by some authors of the emails.
He cited an instance where a Gupta associate, Ashu Chawla, drafted an email for Gigaba and that he was also sent requirements for early naturalisation by department officials only for the minister to authorise applications.
During his presentation, Heyneke detailed emails involving Chawla as well as department officials Gideon Cornelius Christian, Major Kobese and Jack Monedi and Simphiwe Maphumulo - who were key in the facilitation of applications for visas and permits of Guptas and their employees.
Christian, Kobese and Monedi are among the persons to testify before the inquiry along with Gigaba and former director-general Mkuseli Apleni.