‘I never received an application from Atul or Rajesh Gupta for SA citizenship’

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Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday said he never received an application from Atul Gupta or Rajesh Gupta during his time in the office.

“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. In the nature of Home Affairs protocols, we are limited to sharing people’s private information when there isn’t a question of irregularity but given public interest, I have opted to override these protocols and share the full history of Gupta family’s documentation in history,” he said in a statement.

“I trust this will inform those concerned and also show beyond a doubt the falsehood of the narrative that I ‘opened the Gupta floodgates’ as evidenced in media headlines, which are a complete falsehood. Accordingly, I have directed the (director general) DG to deal with the naturalisation of the entire Gupta family at a media briefing today, Wednesday, 7 March 2018.”

The briefing is expected to take place at 3.30pm.

In a briefing on Tuesday, Gigaba said that Ajay Gupta, one of three Indian-born brothers at the centre of state capture allegations, is not on the run using a South African passport.

Briefing journalists after “putting the matter to rest” before Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs regarding the early naturalisation of members of the Gupta family, Gigaba said only Ajay Gupta’s wife, mother and two children were granted citizenship.

“They were asked to renounce the citizenship of the country of origin at which point Mr Ajay Gupta declined to renounce Indian citizenship, therefore he is not a citizen of the Republic of South Africa,” Gigaba said.

He explained that after Ajay Gupta and the four other members of his family were denied naturalisation in 2013, they appealed. He said the family appealed after which the matter was put before a departmental panel to look at new facts. These included that the family employed thousands of workers in South Africa and was engaged in several philanthropic activities in the republic.

On Wednesday, Gigaba said that he “noted now the confusion” shifted to Atul Gupta and his citizenship. Setting the record straight, he said in the briefing on Tuesday, he “erroneously referred to Atul Gupta in the same breath as Ajay”, in the matter he was dealing with in Parliament.

“Last year, a falsified naturalisation letter was leaked by opposition parties and spread widely by media, the document was used to suggest that Ajay Gupta and his family of dependents were naturalised irregularly specifically within my tenure. Following my redeployment to Treasury the matter was repeatedly explained to the committee by the Director-General,” Gigaba said.

“He explained that Ajay Gupta and his dependents applied for citizenship and followed the process prescribed by the law. Upon being notified that they would have to renounce their Indian citizenship, Ajay Gupta chose not to and is therefore not a South African citizen but remains in the country on Permanent Residency status.”

Gigaba said that this was the matter that was clarified to the home affairs portfolio committee.

On Tuesday, Gigaba again denied any malicious intent.

“If there was any intention on our part to favour this family and grant them citizenship regardless of what the law stipulates, we would not have asked them to renounce Indian citizenship.”

Both Ajay and his brother, Atul, were not citizens but had permanent residency permits.

Gigaba and home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni said there was no way the department could have known prior to granting the Guptas the right to citizenship that they would be involved in any alleged wrongdoing.

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