Recently re-appointed minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday said that Atul Gupta was not a South African citizen – but TimesLIVE has proof that Atul is in fact a citizen.
Contained in thousands of #GuptaLeaks emails is a copy of Atul’s South African passport. The date of issue is July 31, 2015, and the document is valid for 10 years.
Under "Nationality", the passport lists Atul as "South African". Non-citizens cannot apply for passports.
Gigaba, who was home affairs minister between May 2014 and March 2017, made pronouncements on the citizenship of Atul while clarifying allegations that he had treated Atul’s older brother Ajay and his family preferentially when Ajay, his mother Angoori, wife Shevani and two sons, Surya and Kamal Singhala, applied for naturalisation in 2013.
The application was rejected, Gigaba explained, because Angoori Gupta had spent more than 90 days out of the country since the granting of her permanent residency permit in 2003.
According to regulations, if a family applies and one member did not qualify for any reason, the entire application would then be denied.
Gigaba and home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni were providing feedback at a media briefing following meetings the pair had with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs to answer questions over the Gupta’s naturalisation.
Gigaba said he was “happy” the issue was now resolved and was confident the committee had accepted their explanations.
During the media briefing, Apleni also stated that Atul and Ajay were not South African citizens and that they had been travelling on Indian passports.
According to Gigaba, one of the key requirements for the granting citizenship would have been that the Guptas renounce their Indian citizenship.
“They were asked to renounce the citizenship of the country of origin. At which point Mr Ajay Gupta declined renouncing his Indian citizenship. Therefore Mr Ajay Gupta is not a South African citizen. He is a permanent residence permit holder, which he received in 2008. But he is not a South African citizen,” Gigaba said.
TimesLIVE has only found an Indian passport copy for Ajay Gupta in the Gupta emails, confirming Gigaba’s assertion.
But Gigaba added: “Mr Atul Gupta also is not – but he was not one of the five people who had applied for citizenship. That is why their citizenship of South Africa is non-existent, it’s null and void. Because they could not renounce the citizenship of India.”
Gigaba also stated that Atul “had never applied” for citizenship.
According to Immigration Consulting South Africa’s website, permanent residents cannot obtain a South African passport.
“The status of permanent resident does not affect the holder’s citizenship. The permanent resident can obtain a South African identity book endorsed as "non-citizen", but not a South African passport,” the website reads.
Gigaba's spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said in response to queries over the apparent contradiction, that Gigaba had not vocalised his meaning properly.
"Minister Gigaba was saying that Atul never applied to him [for citizenship]. Which is a fact. No matter their status, any court ruling that determines guilt will afford us the grounds to revoke status,” he said.