North West education MEC Sello Lehari and North West education head of department (HOD) Stephinah Semaswe appeared before the portfolio committee for Home Affairs during a hearing on the naturalisation of the Gupta family earlier this week.
At the committee it was brought to light that the Gupta family commissioned learners to design wedding invitations for the infamous Sun City wedding in a provincial drawing competition.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the North West province has since written to MEC Lehari, asking him to explain how 77 schools in the province participated in the drawing competition which was lead by the Gupta-linked JIC Mining company without the approval of the HOD of Education.
“It was alleged that JIC Mining Company handed out cash prizes to learners who participated in a ‘drawing competition’ to design wedding invitations for Vega Gupta’s infamous Sun City wedding in 2013,” explained the DA in a statement.
Vega, the niece of Ajay Gupta, married Aakash Jahajgarhia at the wedding, which became hugely controversial when a private jet carrying over 200 wedding attendees landing at a government air force base in Waterkloof.
The DA would like to know the names of the schools, as well as the means by which they had been approached to participate in the competition.
“MEC Lehari must urgently table the report that has transpired from the hearing, as we believe that it is in the interest of the public to know whether the school governing bodies and parents of the 77 schools have granted consent for learners to participate in the competition sponsored by the JIC mining company,” added the party.
The party is even willing to lodge a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application if the department fails to table the report within 30 days of their request.
The North West province is currently under administration and was therefore not reachable for comment.
Speaking on behalf of the North West’s education department, spokesperson for the national department of basic education Elijah Mhlanga, said that they were not aware of the DA’s request at national level.
He went on to add that the DA would have to follow certain procedures to formally lodge their request.
“We are not aware so they would have to request that information from the province. If they used those channels then we would have to request the province to provide us with that information,” said Mhlanga.