The chairman of a parliamentary inquiry had to call for order on Thursday when MPs sniggered and others burst out laughing when a former home affairs officials read out a letter motivating why members of the Gupta family should be granted citizenship.
The inquiry by parliament’s home affairs portfolio committee is investigating whether there were any irregularities in the granting of early naturalisation to the Gupta brothers and members of their family.
It emerged that after an application for early naturalisation was rejected for Angoori Gupta, the Guptas’ mother, Shivani Gupta, Ajay Gupta’s wife, and their children Kamal and Surya Singhala, an appeal was lodged with then home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba.
The motivation included that the family had invested R25 billion in South Africa, employed 7,000 people and was involved in social upliftment projects.
“Another ongoing project which we are very proud of is our school feeding scheme whereby we support different schools in the suburbs which we operate by providing stationary kits, school uniforms and take-away lunch for every pupil at the school,” the letter, read out by Richard Sikakane, a former home affairs official involved in the naturalisation process, said.
“Many of the kids have told us that these meals are the first time they have ever had something like KFC.”
Gupta Letter urging Minister to overturn rejection of naturalization claiming they care for children, gave them KFC for the first time, happy 7000 employees and soccer kits and R25 billion investment. MPs are snickering. Chair is calling for order. #GuptaNaturalisation @eNCA pic.twitter.com/ezvmfdIm78
— Annika Larsen (@AnnikaLarsen1) September 13, 2018
This resulted in MPs laughing as testimony on Wednesday by officials of the North West education department contradicted this. MPs were told that no evidence could be found of a feeding scheme at schools in the province. The education officials also said they did not believe any donations were made to 77 schools in the area.
The only evidence that could be found was of children and schools being given tokens of appreciation for entering a competition to design wedding cards for the lavish multimillion-rand wedding of a Gupta niece in 2013.
The family’s appeal was successful and early naturalisation was granted in 2015.
Ajay Gupta’s citizenship was refused because he refused to renounce his Indian citizenship, as required by the law. The two other brothers – Atul and Rajesh – were granted citizenship before the law required that one needed to renounce citizenship of another country to qualify for naturalisation.