MPs call for the cancellation of Guptas’ travel documents
Parliamentary inquiry to probe whether members of controversial family were naturalised according to the law
MPs have implored the Department of Home Affairs to immediately cancel the Guptas’ South African travel documentation, as some members of the controversial family continue to dodge local law-enforcement agencies and Parliamentary inquiries.
The portfolio committee on home affairs met on Tuesday to discuss the terms of reference for the inquiry into the decision by the Department of Home Affairs to grant some members of the Gupta family South African citizenship.
The committee unanimously adopted the terms of reference for the inquiry into the process undertaken by the department to grant the Gupta family naturalisation. In March, Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said of the five Guptas who applied for naturalisation‚ four members of the family‚ excluding Ajay Gupta‚ were
naturalised after they fulfilled the requirement to renounce their Indian citizenship, given that India does not allow dual citizenship.
According to Apleni, Ajay "only holds a permanent residence permit". This contradicted the version presented by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s predecessor, Hlengiwe Mkhize‚ who previously said two Gupta brothers‚ Atul and Ajay‚ were granted citizenship based on their business investments and social partnerships.
Should the Gupta family members have South African documentation to travel, this committee must instruct the Department of Home Affairs to cancel their documents.Patrick Chauke
In March, Gigaba retracted his statement that Atul was not a South African citizen, saying he had meant to say that Atul’s brother, Ajay, did not hold South African citizenship.
Ajay, who has officially been named a fugitive by the Hawks, is still on the run and is said to be out of the country. He is wanted for charges that are not related to the Vrede dairy farm case.
"Should the Gupta family members have South African documentation to travel, this committee must instruct the Department of Home Affairs to cancel their documents," said ANC MP Patrick Chauke.
Chauke said the committee should leave no stone unturned to ensure those who broke the law in granting the Guptas citizenship were held to account.
DA MP Haniff Hoosen said the terms of reference of the inquiry should be broadened and perhaps also consider looking into the documentation of all those employed by the Guptas.
The Guptas had extensive business interests in the country. However, they started selling off commercial interests as the political tide turned against them. A range of other companies are in business rescue.
The committee wants Gigaba and senior officials from the department to be called in to provide more details.
In March, Hoosen said the DA had revealed that several more members of the Gupta family were granted citizenship.
"This information was never revealed or reported to Parliament, as is required by law," Hoosen said.
"In addition to this, minister Gigaba and his department only explained the circumstances surrounding the naturalisation of five Gupta family members, when there was in fact a further six members of the Gupta family that are South African citizens and registered as voters on the IEC [Electoral Commission of SA] database."
Following the adoption of the terms of reference for the inquiry into the granting of naturalisation for the Guptas, the probe will be carried out in two phases. The first entails the committee collecting information from the department and relevant stakeholders. This phase will also include a call to the public to provide the committee with any information it might have in relation to the matter under inquiry. This phase is under way.
The first phase will determine if there is need for the committee to move to phase two, which will entail interviewing witnesses. Phase one will also determine if there is a need for an evidence leader to take the process forward.
There was also unanimous agreement that the terms of reference be broad enough to ensure this matter is investigated thoroughly. As a result, the committee agreed that it will also look into foreign employees working in Gupta-run companies to assess if they had received their work permits as per the prescripts of the law.
"The primary consideration of the committee is ensuring accountability and ensuring that our laws, as passed by this Parliament, are respected and enforced," said Donald Gumede, the acting chairman of the portfolio committee.