Gigaba: I never received applications for SA citizenship from Guptas
Johannesburg - Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday said he never received an application from Atul Gupta or Rajesh Gupta as the IEC confirmed that Atul Gupta is registered to vote in South Africa.
"Let me put it on the record more clearly, the matter of Atul Gupta, in my tenure at Home Affairs, I have never received an application from Atul Gupta nor Rajesh Gupta. In the nature of Home Affairs protocols, we are limited to sharing people's private information when there isn't a question of irregularity but given public interest, I have opted to override these protocols and share the full history of Gupta family's documentation...," he said in a statement.
"I trust this will inform those concerned and also show beyond a doubt the falsehood of the narrative that I 'opened the Gupta floodgates' as evidenced in media headlines, which are a complete falsehood. Accordingly, I have directed the [director general] DG to deal with the naturalisation of the entire Gupta family at a media briefing today."
The briefing is set for 3.30pm.
However, earlier on Wednesday, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) confirmed that Atul Gupta is registered to vote at Saxonwold Primary School.
IEC deputy chairperson Terry Tselane said at a media briefing that the IEC was asked to check the registration details of an ID number, which proves that Atul is indeed a South African citizen.
But Gigaba has said that Ajay Gupta was not on the run using a South African passport. He said both Ajay and his brother, Atul, were not citizens but had permanent residency permits.
Gigaba said only Ajay Gupta's wife, mother and two children were granted citizenship.
In his statement on Wednesday, Gigaba said that he "noted now the confusion" shifted to Atul Gupta and his citizenship. Setting the record straight, he said in the briefing on Tuesday, he "erroneously referred to Atul Gupta in the same breath as Ajay", in the matter he was dealing with in Parliament.
"Last year, a falsified naturalisation letter was leaked by opposition parties and spread widely by media, the document was used to suggest that Ajay Gupta and his family of dependents were naturalised irregularly specifically within my tenure. Following my redeployment to Treasury the matter was repeatedly explained to the committee by the Director-General," Gigaba said.
"He explained that Ajay Gupta and his dependents applied for citizenship and followed the process prescribed by the law. Upon being notified that they would have to renounce their Indian citizenship, Ajay Gupta chose not to and is therefore not a South African citizen but remains in the country on Permanent Residency status."
Gigaba said that this was the matter that was clarified to the home affairs portfolio committee.
He explained that after Ajay Gupta and the four other members of his family were denied naturalisation in 2013, they appealed. He said the family appealed after which the matter was put before a departmental panel to look at new facts. These included that the family employed thousands of workers in South Africa and was engaged in several philanthropic activities in the republic.
On Tuesday, Gigaba again denied any malicious intent.
"If there was any intention on our part to favour this family and grant them citizenship regardless of what the law stipulates, we would not have asked them to renounce Indian citizenship."
Gigaba and home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni said there was no way the department could have known prior to granting the Guptas the right to citizenship that they would be involved in any alleged wrongdoing.
African News Agency/ANA