Cape Town – Atul and Rajesh Gupta are South African citizens; the fugitive Ajay Gupta is not.
This is the clarification given by the home affairs department after confusion reigned for around 22 hours and 30 minutes on the status of Atul.
At an initial press briefing shortly after 14:00 on Tuesday, meant to waylay questions about the legality of Ajay Gupta family's naturalisation, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said Ajay, and his brother Atul, are not South African citizens.
In the hours following Gigaba's statement, information emerged that Atul was indeed a South African citizen, based on his identity number and that he and Rajesh were registered to vote in South Africa, for which you need to be a South African citizen.
Gigaba then released a statement on Wednesday.
"I have noted now the confusion has shifted to Atul Gupta and his citizenship, partly because in yesterday’s (Tuesday) media briefing. I erroneously referred to Atul Gupta in the same breath as Ajay, on the matter I was dealing with in Parliament," the statement reads.
"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."(Image via Gupta leaks)
(Image via Gupta leaks)
At 15:30, Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni addressed the media to further clarify the citizenship of the Gupta family.
"Minister Gigaba never dealt with the granting of citizenship to Atul Gupta, who was naturalised on November 2002, having satisfied the ordinary requirements for naturalisation. He arrived in South Africa in 1994," said Apleni. He has been issued with five South African passports since 2004.
Rajesh Gupta was naturalised in July 2006.
Both Atul and Rajesh Gupta appear in the IEC voters roll, Apleni confirmed.
He said the matter of Gupta citizenship became a public issue when a document was circulated on social media in 2017, "seemingly to draw public attention to the granting, by Minister of Home Affairs (Gigaba), of naturalisation to members of Ajay Gupta’s family", said Apleni.
In June last year, Apleni addressed the portfolio committee on home affairs on the matter, while Gigaba dodged the committee, saying he had "prior commitments".
"The department informed the committee that there were five Ajay Gupta family members who applied as a group for naturalisation as a group. They are Ajay Gupta, his wife Shivani, his mother Angoori and two sons, Kamal Singhala and Surya Singhala.
Apleni said their request for exemption to ordinary residence requirements were in accordance with the Citizenship Act, which also allowed the minister to - under exceptional circumstances - "grant a certificate of naturalisation as a South African citizen to an applicant who does not comply with the requirements relating to residence or ordinary residence in the republic".
"The minister approved their request for early naturalisation on 30 May 2015," said Apleni.
"However, of the five, 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. The reason that Ajay Gupta was not naturalised is that he did not renounce his Indian citizenship. Therefore he remains not a citizen of South Africa. He only holds a permanent resident permit."
(Image via Gupta leaks)
"On 27 February 2018, in adherence to a request from the Portfolio Committee, the DG presented, to the committee, the supporting documents showing investments and social responsibility of the Gupta family in South Africa. The report was accepted by the committee.
The committee will validate the documents submitted as evidence, for authenticity," said Apleni.
In order to address the Gupta family in its entirety, the department looked at all the people with the Gupta surname who are on their system.
"We found that there are 39 people who are not naturalised, 13 who are naturalised, and 10 who were born in South Africa, which gives us a total of 62," said Apleni.