PARLIAMENT, October 9 – Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday maintained that the Gupta family did not receive any favours from himself or his department to gain early naturalisation.
“There is no evidence of a corrupt relationship,” Gigaba replied when pressed about the nature of his relationship with the Indian-born family implicated in a massive rent-seeking scandal believed to have cost the national purse billions of rands.
The question was posed by Democratic Alliance member of Parliament (MP) Haniff Hoosen.
On the day that Nhlanhla Nene quit as finance minister after was forced to admit that he visited the Gupta’s Saxonwold home on at least six occasions, Gigaba said it was normal that he interacted with the family, just as he interacted with other businessmen.
“It was not a personal relationship, it was a professional relationship as a public representative… it does not stand to reason that I am beholden because I engaged with them.”
Gigaba said he attended a Diwali ceremony at the family’s invitation “for reasons of social cohesion”, just as he interacted with people of various religions in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
He said he attended “probably two Diwali functions” held by the Gupta family, one at the family’s infamous Saxonwold home and one in Lenasia.
He conceded that he visited the family home in Johannesburg “probably five times”.
Gigaba declined to say whether any other Cabinet members were present, saying it was straying beyond the purpose of the inquiry into the naturalisation of the family.
Hoosen said the committee needed to probe the involvement of the department into the state capture scandal, embroiling the family.
“Chair it is irrelevant to the naturalisation. Let me remind you that the issue of relevance to this inquiry is there were five people of the Gupta family who applied for naturalisation on the basis of exceptional circumstances,” Gigaba said.
“The issue of which other members of Cabinet attended a Diwali function is irrelevant. I think we need to focus ourselves on that issue of the early naturalisation.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the committee heard that a senior home affairs official was transferred to Munich from New Delhi in September 2015 mid-way through his term after be endured some pressure about the state of the family’s application for documents.
It also heard from Major Kobese, a former director of home affairs’ foreign office, that he had received a call from the minister’s office in 2015 asking that he assist in speedily granting applications from Ashu Chawla, who head Sahara Computers.
Kobese also testified that his musician brother was offered assistance on projects by the brothers.
– African News Agency (ANA)