Cape Town - A Home Affairs official working at the South African High Commission's immigration section in New Delhi was ostensibly moved to make way for Gideon Christians, who was allegedly more amenable to the Guptas and their visa applications.
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.
He said that in September 2015 he was contacted by the chief director for foreign office coordination Nomzamo Mnyaka asking him whether he would be prepared to be transferred to Munich. He responded in the affirmative.
“She also requested that I keep it quiet, because it was still a ‘process’. I was not aware of the reasons why I was requested to transfer to Munich,” said Steyn.
Despite the earlier testimony of Major Kobese, a former director in the department’s foreign office, Steyn said he had no problems with his colleagues.
Kobese had told the committee that there had been “a breakdown in the relationship” between Steyn and his superior at the New Delhi High Commission.
The DA’s Haniff Hoosen says the suspicion that members of the committee had was that Steyn was moved from New Delhi “to make space for an official who would be a little bit more accommodating to the Gupta family”.
Steyn, asked about the reason behind his removal, responded that he was not aware of anything and that his working relationship at the High Commission in New Delhi was “fine”.
“I was not aware of any disciplinary matters or allegations against me,” said Steyn.
He said his interactions with Gupta fixer Ashu Chawla was due to the visa applications lodged for either Infinity Media or Sahara Computers where he was listed as a contact person who signed the “invite letter”.
“I maybe received one or two calls from him (Chawla) where he requested that visas be processed,” said Steyn.
Earlier the committee chair told the meeting that Chawla’s lawyers had responded to the committee’s request to make himself available.
Chawla’s condition for appearing before the committee was that he be flown business class from India to South Africa, and be provided with a Hindu interpreter even though he had written letters, on behalf of the Guptas in English, and had “lived” in South Africa for 17 years.