State Capture Inquiry: Guptas had been in SA for two decades when they applied for naturalisation - Gigaba

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Malusi Gigaba gives evidence at the Zondo Commission.
Malusi Gigaba gives evidence at the Zondo Commission.
Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo
  • Former Minister Malusi Gigaba is appearing before the Zondo Commission.  
  • Gigaba has told the commission that members of the Gupta family were not granted early naturalisation. 
  • He said out of the five people who applied, only one was not eligible for naturalisation.

Former Minister Malusi Gigaba told the State Capture Inquiry on Monday that members of the Gupta family were not granted early naturalisation.

Gigaba said the family had been in the country for two decades by the time they applied for naturalisation.

"It was not early naturalisation," he said.

"I think in the processes of the application for naturalisation by the Guptas, we found that there were quite a lot of people with a Gupta surname that were in South Africa," he said.

READ | 'Bitter' Norma is an 'extensive liar': Gigaba tells Zondo Commission

"They started arriving in South Africa in 1993. They arrived and arrived, and two members of the family were given permanent residency in South Africa a year after their arrival, I think in the 90s. By the time that they applied for naturalisation, they would have been in South Africa for a period of over two decades," he told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the commission.

Gigaba said five family members applied for naturalisation in 2012 or 2013.

But the application was rejected due to one member being ineligible for naturalisation, he said.

Gigaba added that the family then appealed the decision, however there were allegations that the appeal was directed to his office.

"... Until a letter emerged which indicated that their appeal had been directed [to] an assistant director or deputy director in the department, not in my office.

"There was no early naturalisation. The people we are talking about, four of them were eligible for naturalisation and even the fifth would have been eligible for naturalisation if only she had not left the country for a period during the time she was not supposed to," he said.

Gigaba also denied that during his tenure as Minister of Home Affairs, he informed his estranged wife, Norma Mngoma, that he was assisting the family to obtain citizenship.

He said:

Chairperson you are dealing with a lie. Again, Ms Mngoma projects herself as this important person with whom I consulted on everything or whom I briefed about everything. This is the person who once claimed to be responsible for the production of smart ID cards of Home Affairs and the e-passports. This is not true.

He also said the Gupta naturalisation did not require a "brown envelope" because it was handled by Home Affairs officials. 

The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs previously said the granting of early naturalisation to members of the Gupta family "could amount to state capture", News24 previously reported.

The committee criticised several department officials in its report on the early naturalisation of members of the Gupta family for the "preferential treatment" the family enjoyed at the department.

It then found that Gigaba's granting of the early naturalisation was "incorrect".

However, in February this year, the Public Protector office released a report into the naturalisation of members of the Gupta family. 

READ | Fabrications and name-dropping: Gigaba denies all allegations about his dealings with the Guptas

Deputy Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka, who released the report at the time, ordered the Director General of Home Affairs to take action against officials involved in the naturalisation of Ajay Gupta and his family for their failure to exercise due diligence by verifying the accuracy of the information contained in the motivation for early naturalisation.

She, however, found that Gigaba exercised his discretion and did not abuse his power in the process.

"Nonetheless, I find that the failure by the officials of the department to exercise due diligence and verify the accuracy of the information contained in the motivation which was relied upon by the former minister amounts to maladministration and [is] in violation of Section 195 (1) (f) of the Constitution, 1996 and regulation C4.9 of the Public Service Regulation, 2001," read the report. 

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