Home affairs’ ducking over Chawla sunglasses pic proven to be false

SA ID book of Gupta henchman Ashu Chawla. Picture: Twitter. @OUTASA

SA ID book of Gupta henchman Ashu Chawla. Picture: Twitter. @OUTASA

Evidence in the Gupta leaks suggests the department should have known better than to suggest the illegal image is the product of manipulation.

Evidence given to parliament by the home affairs department suggested this week that they may have been ignoring legislation that governs them, perhaps for years.

The admission came to light when questions were asked about how so-called Gupta lieutenant Ashu Chawla could have been allowed to have an ID book in which his photo shows him wearing sunglasses.

This is illegal, and home affairs hoped to get away with suggesting the people who’d leaked his ID document scan online may have photoshopped it.

However, The Citizen has easily confirmed that the photo is authentic.

“Don’t lie to us,” cautioned parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs’ chair Hlomane Chauke at the start of Tuesday’s hearings on the naturalisation of the controversial Gupta family – he is not running a “spaza shop parliament”.

The hearing ran until the early hours of yesterday with it wanting to get Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s testimony in.

“If it is found that you lied to parliament, and when you raise that oath statement that we read for you, it tells you of consequences that will happen,” Chauke said.

He noted people who thought he was running a “spaza shop parliament” and expected to be given “a muffin” before being sent away had the wrong idea.

“This time around it is not going to happen.”

First, the picture of Ashu Chawla was to be confirmed.

“Because this will be the only person in the country that can take an ID picture with their sunglasses,” Chauke said.

Thulani Mavuso, acting director-general of home affairs, said spectacles were allowed in ID photos, not sunglasses.

“So, what we tried specifically to do was to check that copy and we could not authenticate whether that was an original or whether that was a digitally manipulated copy,” Mavuso said. “If we were to get an original copy we would be able to do it.”

A quick search through the leaked Gupta e-mails revealed a copy of a smiling Chawla’s ID – with his sunglasses on, next to a copy of his now-expired Absa credit card. It was issued in August, 2003.

“At the time we were doing green ID books, we were not archiving the photo so every time you come and apply, the old photo gets replaced by the new photo,” Mavuso said.

Since the 1950 Identification Act came into being people were required to “at his or her own expense furnish two prescribed copies of a recent photograph of himself or herself to the director-general”.

One went into the identity document, and the other was entered into population register – a requirement of the Identity Act.

And in all the iterations of the Act since the ’50s, the clause has remained – which means according Mavuso’s testimony, there are millions of ID photos stapled to identity documents possibly lying trashed somewhere.

Or there is another explanation.

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