Politics / 13 September 2018, 11:00am / Mayibongwe Maqhina
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and former director-general Mkuseli Apleni were expected to testify today before the parliamentary inquiry into the naturalisation of the Guptas.
The pair were in the department when early naturalisation was granted to some of the Gupta family members.
This comes after the North West Education Department's bombshell yesterday when it revealed that the R1million social investments made by the Guptas to their schools was done without their knowledge.
Portfolio committee chairperson Hlomane Chauke said Gigaba was expected to testify about the convening of an appeal committee and his signing of a naturalisation certificate for the Guptas after their application was rejected by the adjudication committee.
The inquiry, which goes back to 1993 when the Guptas landed in the country, will also see apartheid-era minister Danie Schutte testifying.
“We exercise our constitutional power to invite people to appear,” Chauke said.
Gigaba waived the naturalisation requirement of Ajay Gupta’s family on the basis of “exceptional circumstances” after their application was rejected.
They applied as a family of five: Ajay, his wife Shivani, mother Angoori, and sons Kamal Kant Singhala and Surya Kant Singhala.
Their initial application was rejected after Shivani and Angoori did not meet the requirements, but they appealed to Gigaba, citing R25billion invested in the country, employment of 7000 employees and a R1 million social investment in 77 schools.
Yesterday, the North West Education Department denied knowledge of the R1m investment.
Department head Stephinah Semaswe said they became aware of the Gupta social investment when Parliament wrote to her and later MEC Jonas Lehari requesting details of the affected schools.
“We found that schools interacted with the companies directly without the involvement of the department,” Semaswe said.
She said that out of the list of 77 schools, 33 benefited in the form of sport equipment and monetary prizes.
Lehari had told the MPs that they were not aware of the Gupta company Oakbay having visited their schools.
“I can with certainty (say) this company secretly gained access to our province and quietly identified schools in and around Rustenburg without department knowledge, except the principals,” Lehari said.
Semaswe said their records showed that Sundown Range Sports Academy issued letters on behalf of the Gupta company JIC Mining to the schools, inviting them to participate in a competition for the design of a wedding card.
Both Samaswe and Lehari were adamant that the so-called donation was a token of appreciation to the schools for participating in the drawing competition.
Semaswe said the department had decided to embark on a full investigation, and the necessary steps would follow.
Lehari said their initial investigation discovered that 77 schools in the Kenneth Kaunda region were connected to wi-fi by a telecoms company without their knowledge. A meeting was scheduled with the affected schools tomorrow.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) gave details of people featured in leaked emails, including Gigaba, department officials Gideon Christians, Simphiwe Maphumulo, Jack Monedi and Major Kobese, as well as Gupta associate Ashu Chawla.
Outa’s Rudie Heyneke said that throughout the emails, Gigaba appeared to be popular with the Guptas from his days as deputy minister, when he was invited to events. “In the Gupta leaks there is not much evidence or documents related to the minister,” he added.