Ajay Gupta’s naturalisation bid was fraudulent, says Home Affairs Committee

Ajay and Atul Gupta. File photo

Ajay and Atul Gupta. File photo

The committee wants members of the family, as well as associate Ashu Chawla, to face charges.

According to the Home Affairs Committee, Ajay Gupta’s naturalisation bid was fraudulent. The committee filled eNCA in on its recommendations that the Gupta family, as well as close family associate and Sahara Computers chief operations officer Ashu Chawla, should face charges for their alleged role in flouting the rules.

Members of the Gupta family as well as Chawla are accused of falsifying information in an application for naturalisation.

The committee has not made adverse findings against then minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba, saying only that his granting members of the family early naturalisation was “incorrect”.

Chawla was meant to appear before the committee, but fled to India in September 2018 after being accused of being the “mastermind” behind the family’s alleged ability to circumvent the usual home affairs rules.

One allegation against Chawla is that he had a special relationship with the director of the foreign office coordination and support branch of the department of home affairs, Major Kobese, who allegedly helped the family flout visa regulations and obtain visas quickly. Evidence of these allegations was revealed in the #GuptaLeaks emails.

Gigaba told a press briefing in 2018 that Ajay Gupta obtained his permanent residency permit in 2008 and in 2013 applied for naturalisation. According to Gigaba, his application had been rejected because the family had applied as a collective and not as individuals and therefore, if one person did not qualify, the entire group was rejected.

READ MORE: #GuptaLeaks: How to get a visa from India, pronto

Gigaba told the briefing that no members of the Gupta family were South African citizens.

However, the committee has now reportedly found that the bid itself was fraudulent.

The ANC has been criticised for putting Gigaba – as well as other controversial party members including Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane, and Supra Mahumapelo – on their recently released elections list for 2019.

The High Court in Pretoria found in February 2019 that Gigaba had lied under oath in his testimony while he was still minister of home affairs. The matter related to Fireblade Aviation – owned by the Oppenheimer family – which had wanted to open a private international terminal at OR Tambo International Airport.

Fireblade alleged that Gigaba had granted the company their wish but later reneged on his promise.

Gigaba appealed the high court’s ruling but his application was dismissed by the Constitutional Court.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, Brian Sokutu, Amanda Watson, Makhosandile Zulu)

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