Gupta 'fixer' pressed Home Affairs official over visa applications
Cape Town - When Ronald Steyn became an obstacle to the Guptas, he was quietly moved from South Africa’s High Commission in New Delhi where he was working in the immigration section to Munich, Germany.
Testifying before the portfolio committee on home affairs which is probing the Gupta naturalisation saga earlier on Tuesday heard from an almost 30 year veteran of the Department of Home Affairs Ronald Steyn.
Steyn was tasked with approving or rejecting the visa applications lodged with the high commission.
Gupta family 'fixer' Ashu Chawla contacted Steyn around eight times, either through email or calls to his office, about rejected visa applications.
“What would happen is that should not they not meet the requirements, I would not approve them. Then I would be in contact with him saying I need ‘A, B, or C before I can approve this application’ that was basically what it was about,” Steyn told the committee.
He said Chawla’s response would usually be that he would send the outstanding letters.
Steyn said most of the applications he dealt with were “port of entry visas”, applicants would submit their documents through VFS and Chawla would then follow-up on these applications.
Pressed, Steyn admitted that he knew of the Gupta brothers because of the controversial landing of their chartered flight at the Waterkloof airforce base ahead of the Gupta wedding in 2013.
At the time, he said, he was working at the department’s provincial office in Nelspruit.
While in New Delhi, Steyn said certain applications from the Gupta companies would be followed-up by the High Commissioner.
According to Steyn the Guptas had a problem with the five-day turnaround time for short-term working visa applications, and this prompted the High Commissioner to do follow-ups, enquiring about the progress.
South Africa’s High Commissioner to India, at the time, France Morule had contacted Steyn “about 15 or 20 times” in just over two years he had been working at the office.