Gupta family early naturalisation: Director-General update; Local Government Elections 2016

Home Affairs

27 February 2018
Chairperson: Mr B Mashile (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Relevant Document: South African Citizenship Act 88 of 1995

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) briefed the Committee on the 2016 Local Government Elections. The municipality demarcation processes were only concluded in December 2015. Outstanding demarcation matters included Vuwani, Tlokwe and Midvaal. Category B municipalities was reduced from 234 to 213 and the total number of municipalities was reduced from 278 to 257 (including 44 Category C municipalities). The number of voting districts was 22 612 in 2016, compared to 20 859 in 2011. Voting stations were opened over the weekends of 5-6 March and 9-10 April 2016 for voter registration and re-registration. A focus was obtaining addresses for registered voters. The total number of new registrations was 1 384 245 and re-registrations for a new voting district was 2 253 654 and 3 040 835 for the same voting district.

Outreach and communications were conducted themed as “My Tomorrow is in My Hands” which was broadcast nationally in 11 languages across all media. Social and digital media was increasingly used as a medium to engage with young voters. 2.5 million SMS messages were sent to young voters aged 17 and 25 for registration purposes and a further 5 million SMS messages were sent to voters without addresses, following the ruling of the Constitutional Court. The call centre was used to receive inquiries from voters.

Candidate nominations totalled 69 196 candidates initially, 38 966 were submitted using the new online candidate nomination system, 30 230 were submitted manually and 5 478 were disqualified. Whilst female candidates totalled 25 113, male candidates were 38 611. The number of special vote applications was 741 721 compared to 239 693 in 2011. The recorded special vote applications represented 3%.  The voter turnout stood at 15 290 820.

The Directorate for Electoral Offences was established in July 2016 to investigate all complaints of alleged transgressions of the Electoral Code of Conduct. The IEC received 63 complaints from which 37 complaints were found to be serious and thus referred to the Doctorate. There was a significant increase in the number of litigious matters ahead of 2016 Local Government Elections.

Members applauded the IEC for the successful 2016 Local Government Elections. Members urged the IEC leadership to sustain that performance in the next elections. Members were concerned whether the IEC would meet the deadline set by the Constitutional Court for addresses. They wanted assurances that the deadline would be met and that other measures had been considered to address the matter. Members asked why the IEC was not using the physical address provided to Home Affairs when applying for IDs and whether the biometrics could be relied on to register voters once and for all and thus move away from registering votes every now and then. They expressed concern over nepotism in the recruitment of workers for registering special votes and, in particular, ensuring that special votes were cast.

The Home Affairs Director-General briefed the Committee on information received on the Gupta family early naturalisation. He had appeared before the Committee in June 2017 to report on this. The Committee had requested the proof of investment and charity engagements of the Gupta family. He further referred to section 5(9)(a) of the South African Citizenship Act that “notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in subsection (1)(c), the Minister may under exceptional circumstances grant a certificate of naturalisation as a South African citizen to an applicant who does not comply with the requirements of subsection (1)(c) relating to residence or ordinary residence in the Republic". Section 5(9)(a) did not spell out what constituted “exceptional circumstances". This phrase was very important. This was the law which was passed by Parliament. Subsection 1(c) made a reference to the number of year an applicant ought to have resided in the country. Above everything else, it was the granting of naturalisation under exceptional circumstances. In June 2017, he submitted that there was a letter from the Gupta family in which they explained what they thought constituted exceptional circumstances for considering their application for early naturalisation. These factors were considered by the Department and were approved by the Minister. In the letter they had focused their support of 75 schools, reaching 50 000 people in the mining communities of North West and the most notable achievement, providing permanent and decent work opportunities to more than 7000 employees. Also there were able over the years able to invest as much as they could in the country and had reached R25 billion investment in various entities in the country. These were factors highlighted in the letter as exceptional circumstances that were considered by the Minister. The decisions that were taken at lower level were overruled. When one overruled, one did not just do it. The law stated that after a decision had been taken, it ought to be communicated to the applicants. A decision to reject the application of Gupta family had been communicated to them because they did not meet the requirement of being in the country for 90 days. In the event the requirement was not met, the law stated that an applicant could apply to the Minister on the basis of exceptional circumstances. When they applied to the Minister, they were exercising their rights.

The Director-General explained he had submitted a letter to the Committee dated 7 February 2018, in which he provided clarification to a 8 September 2017 letter from the Committee and attached six annexures:
• Annexure A1 dealt with evidence of sponsorship of two schools in North West Province for R12 000. The letter was signed by the school principal in 2013 and the DHA considered the application in 2015;
• Annexure A2 dealt with renovation of Chanenge Primary School. The renovation amounted to R8 000. A document signed by the school principal in September 2014 was attached.
• Annexure A3 dealt with computers donated to a school in 2013 with proof signed by the school principal.
• Annexure A4 dealt with 75 schools in different communities. There was a table which gave the name of school, the region, the name of school principal, email address, signature and telephone number.
• Annexure A5 dealt with the records of people employed. The evidence was provided by the Department of Labour, which kept all records of people employed.
• Annexure A6 dealt with an international company that kept or registered international companies;
• Annexure A7 dealt with clarification of these companies' investments.

These submitted documents supplemented the previous documents as they contained the proof of values which were not appearing in previous documents. In Annexure A2, they would see that investment in February 2015 approximately stood at 284.7 million. In Tegeta Exploration, they invested 17.3 million. There was another R13 million invested in Tegeta. Their company, Oakbay, had stated that it invested R25 billion in the country. These were companies listed by Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). All investments in the JSE-listed companies were appearing in Annexure 7. Annexure A4 listed 75 schools and provided amounts donated to each school or details and values of materials donated. The documents reconciled the amount of the total investment as it was submitted.

Members felt that the documents presented many questions and that the Minister might have acted on the wrong information when approving the Guptas' early naturalisation. They were concerned with the new documents that were handed in each time they sat to discuss the matter. They asked if the DG verified the newly produced documents which in their view contained many contradictions. Members from the Opposition were of the view that the 7 000 jobs were created from the theft from state-owned entities, in particular, Eskom. They asked the DG to come clean on the matter, that he should not cover for the wrong reasons, rather he should tell the truth.

Director-General Mkuseli Apleni noted with concern that some of the MPs appeared to disregard the truth, listening only to what they wanted to hear. He pointed out that 22 people had been granted early naturalisation and asked why Members were focusing on the Guptas and not others. Why should their cases be treated differently? He stressed that as the accounting officer of the DHA he talked about facts and it was with facts the truth could be ascertained.

The Committee agreed that the Committee researcher and legal advisor study the submitted documents and advise on how to proceed.
 

Meeting report

IEC briefing on Local Government Elections of 2016
Dr Nomsa Masuku, Deputy Chief Executive Officer: IEC, took the Committee through presentation, which dealt with the legislative framework, pre-election phase, election phase, outreach and communications, election timetable, legal environment, election day, post-election phase and voters’ perspective.

 The municipality demarcation processes were only concluded in December 2015. Outstanding demarcation matters included Vuwani, Tlokwe and Midvaal. Category B municipalities was reduced from 234 to 213 and the total number of municipalities was reduced from 278 to 257 (including 44 Category C municipalities). The number of voting districts was 22 612 in 2016, compared to 20 859 in 2011. Voting stations were opened over the weekends of 5-6 March and 9-10 April 2016 for voter registration and re-registration. A focus was obtaining addresses for registered voters. The total number of new registrations was 1 384 245 and re-registrations for a new voting district was 2 253 654 and 3 040 835 for the same voting district.

Outreach and communications were conducted themed as “My Tomorrow is in My Hands” which was broadcast nationally in 11 languages across all media. Social and digital media was increasingly used as a medium to engage with young voters. 2.5 million SMS messages were sent to young voters aged 17 and 25 for registration purposes and a further 5 million SMS messages were sent to voters without addresses, following the ruling of the Constitutional Court. The call centre was used to receive inquiries from voters.

Candidate nominations totalled 69 196 candidates initially, 38 966 were submitted using the new online candidate nomination system, 30 230 were submitted manually and 5 478 were disqualified. Whilst female candidates totalled 25 113, male candidates were 38 611. The number of special vote applications was 741 721 compared to 239 693 in 2011. The recorded special vote applications represented 3%.  The voter turnout stood at 15 290 820.

The Directorate for Electoral Offences was established in July 2016 to investigate all complaints of alleged transgressions of the Electoral Code of Conduct. The IEC received 63 complaints from which 37 complaints were found to be serious and thus referred to the Doctorate. There was a significant increase in the number of litigious matters ahead of 2016 Local Government Elections.

Discussion
Mr M Waters (DA) asked what action the IEC was taking to ensure the constitutional proportionality because it had been appeared that one party was winning more wards in one municipality. The PRC did not guarantee the proportionality. He asked what the IEC was doing to ensure that people walk only 15 minutes to cast their ballot and what were the reasons for having so many special votes in Mpumalanga.

Mr A Figlan (DA) asked for more explanation on voters’ addresses and whether there was no other way voters could be identified if they did not have addresses. If the DHA could not assist in addressing addresses, which other way could be used to address this? Did the Smart ID cards link to biometrics? If the biometrics of those who have Smart ID cards were captured, why biometrics could not be used to identify a voter or to vote using a computer? He asked how the voting district roll increased to 8% when the target was set at 2%.

Mr M Hoosen (DA) commented that there was an impressive improvement in recording the addresses of voters. Despite such improvement, there was a quite a large number of voters that were still unregistered or registered incorrectly. Is the IEC satisfied that we will to reach the 2.8 million addresses before the deadline? He raised concerns about the IEC funding and asked if the funding was sufficient to ensure that it met the deadline set by the Constitutional Court. In recent by-elections, it has never happened that people could not submit special votes. What happened on the day of special votes? There were not enough people allocated to ensure special votes were cast. He noticed that there were a high number of special votes. He asked if the Smart ID card should not be linked to a physical address to avoid the need for voters’ registration in future.

Ms H Hlophe (EFF) followed up on the utilisation of Smart ID cards and if there is any plan to get away with registration of voters in the future. She asked why the IEC wanted to appeal against the decision of the court on addresses. When people applied for IDs they had to provide proof of address. Everyone in the country had a physical address. They were providing a proof of address when buying cell phones. Why should it be difficult when it came to registering with the IEC? The EFF did not buy the story that people did not have a physical address. 2.8 million voters did not have physical addresses. Would the IEC meet its deadline for registration of addresses?

She expressed concern at the number of people registered for special vote but there was evidence that the IEC was reluctant to go and visit them. Was it a capacity issue? She asked if the IEC would be able to have access to all of them. Referring to the 63 cases received by the IEC, she asked why the pending 14 cases were not attended to. There was a need of clarity about the IEC’s human resources. She wrote to the IEC about a young woman in KZN who was not paid. She did get feedback. However, nothing much was mentioned in the IEC response to explain what the real problem was. The problem of not paying workers should be investigated because there were rumours that in Mpumalanga, some workers did not receive their pay and the provincial manager was recruiting his/her own people. There was a case of nepotism. In KZN, in Dumbe, there was an individual called Ms Xaba who was supposed to attend a disciplinary hearing after she was found defrauding the IEC and she never attended the hearing because she always claimed that she was sick. After that, her daughter was doing the same thing. The IEC was providing bursaries for people to study but the IEC was not making use of these skills. There was an IEC policy that prohibited active members of political parties becoming IEC employees unless five years had elapsed. However, there was an individual who was a councillor in eThekwini in 2016 who was employed by the IEC. These issues were demoralizing other workers and she asked how the IEC would go about to clean up its human resources.

Ms T Kenye (ANC) asked how the IEC dealt with challenges of violence during elections and asked how the verification process was conducted once registration had closed.

Mr D Gumede (ANC) welcomed the wonderful work of IEC. He was proud of the IEC because it was amongst the best electoral commissions in the world. He asked who were stakeholders involved in post-election evaluation. Was there any? Were police and traditional leaders involved? He noted that there had been a number of appeals to the Directorate and nothing was reported on the outcomes of these cases. He asked the IEC to respond in writing on the outcomes. What led to the high number of registrations in the same voting districts in Kwazulu Natal and some other provinces? The voter population stood at 50% and he asked what caused inertia in the local government elections.

Ms D Raphuti (ANC) asked if security around Smart ID card was improved so that biometrics could be used as a means of voting by voters. With a Smart ID card, there should be no registration required.

Ms N Dambuza (ANC) asked about the cases referred to Directorate, especially their outcomes. She asked if there was any strategy to ensure young people were motivated to go and vote. The young should not just be encouraged to come and register only. On the nomination of candidates, she asked the IEC to share the grounds to disqualify nominated candidates.

The Chairperson asked which age group was coming forward to register and vote. Was it the 60 years and above category?

Mr Glen Mashinini, IEC Chairperson, replied that most of the questions would be responded to in writing. His colleagues would answer some questions. He commented that once the youngster registered, they had the highest turnaround rate.

Mr David Hlabane, IEC Director: Media Relations, replied that the IEC was facing a challenge to register physical addresses simply because the Home Affairs records were not helpful. When people applied for the Smart ID card, they were not required to use original addresses. However, when registering voters, the IEC needed exact physical addresses they stayed at in their wards or in wards they come from in the event they were staying somewhere else. The main problem was therefore the residence of a voter. When people bought phones or engaged in other transactions, they were not required to provide their original home address. They could use their work address or physical address of where they were currently staying. Some use the physical address of people they were staying with temporarily. With voting registration, the law required that a voter make a registration in person and should provide a physical address in the ward. After registration, information was subjected to verification to see if they were genuine.

The national population register could not assist in registering voters because people did not update their physical addresses. The IEC had not yet moved to the level of using biometrics and would like to see whether this avenue could be explored. The question was very difficult to answer about achieving the target of registering people without addresses. It was difficult to achieve the target if no physical address was clearly provided. Another problem was reaching the voters without physical addresses. The IEC had to use all alternatives available including phone calls, emails and SMSs to get hold of them. The deadline was very close and there was no guarantee that the target would be achieved. Linking Smart ID cards to physical addresses would be difficult because there were difficulties in finding the physical addresses of all voters.

On the variance of stations per provinces, Mr Terry Tselane, IEC Vice Chairperson, replied that the IEC made sure that people did not walk more than 3 km or 14 minutes to the voting station. Yet, the voting stations were allocated in accordance with the volumes of people in a municipality. In general, the IEC ensured that one voting station was accessed by 3 500 people. These factors resulted in one municipality of a province having so many more voting stations than another. He reiterated that there were 2.8 million people without physical addresses and he doubted that they would be all registered, come the deadline. He rather promised to register as many as possible.

Mr Tselane replied that the difficulties the IEC was facing about people who registered for special votes were related to their unavailability or inaccessibility. The IEC had workers assigned to special voting. However, when IEC officials visited them, they were in many cases not there. People registered for special vote even when they were able to move about. When visited at their homes, they were gone. The IEC was trying to find a way of addressing this problem.

On disqualified candidate nominations, Mr Tselane replied that it was incumbent on a political party to convince their nominees to accept the nomination. In many cases, nominated individuals were turning down the nomination. In a few cases, the nominated individuals could not meet the requirements. On the question of violence, there was inter- and intra-party conflict. On intra-party conflict, he gave an example of the PAC where various individuals would claim that they were leaders of this organisation. Factions within a political party were problematic.

Ms Janet Love, IEC Commissioner, replied on the cases referred to the Directorate. A report in writing would be communicated to the Committee. On the post-election evaluations, evaluations had been done along with various stakeholders, including leaders of political parties. A problem was caused by demarcation because demarcation delayed undergoing various extensive processes to ensure that people were registered. On the question of funding, the IEC had been reporting to the Committee that it had been facing financial constraints. It had been clear on this matter. Voter turnout in South Africa was very high. It exceeded 75%. At local level, people were not very motivated. South Africa could not however be compared to Rwanda where 98% of population turned out to vote. The cases appealed against and their outcomes would be submitted to the Committee. Also to be answered in writing was the question on the cleaning up IEC human resources.

The Chairperson asked the IEC to ensure that they do everything possible to ensure an ever-increasing voter turnout. He appealed to members of political parties not to use the IEC as a political football. The IEC was a national resource. Let us ensure that we promote its image.

Gupta family early naturalisation
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Mkuseli Apleni, Director-General of Home Affairs to brief the Committee. The Committee would have enough time to discuss the matter.

Mr Hoosen commented that they should first agree on certain principles. He reminded the Chairperson that the DA was against the invitation of the DG on the ground that he had appeared before the Committee before and it was fruitless exercise to invite him to brief the Committee again. The DG should brief the Committee on condition that the Minister – as a political head – would be invited to fill the gaps. He believed that there were issues that should be responded to by Minister Malusi Gigaba personally.

The Chairperson said that Mr Hoosen should not jump the cart before the horse because the decision to call the Minister would depend on the outcome of the DG’s briefing and deliberations thereof. It was not a matter of agreeing on principles; rather it was a matter of Committee members reaching a decision to invite the Minister. The Minister would be invited on the basis of a committee decision. The Committee would explore all possibilities, including establishing an inquiry committee into the matter.

Mr Gumede agreed, saying that the position of the ANC was that the Minister would be invited based on the deliberation of the Committee. The Minister would be called on the basis of documentation which ought to be engage with first. He asked the DA to provide a single reason why the Minister should be invited. A reason ought to be clear as the basis of reference. As a governing political party, they ought to be fair to the Minister and they would oppose a proposal to call the Minister without reference.

The Chairperson said that the question of calling him was not in dispute. Rather, there should be substantive reasons for  inviting him. They should agree on the way forward, including when the Minister was needed and what issues he should respond to.

Ms Hlophe remarked that it looked like if some members were trying to block the Minister to come and brief the Committee. The same matter was discussed the previous week and they had agreed that they should engage with the documentation. However, she was in consensus with the Chairperson that the DG should be given an opportunity to brief the Committee and clarify matters arising from the documents. There was no crisis and there was no need for Ms Gumede to mention that the ANC was a ruling party.

Mr Waters remarked that it was Members’ constitutional mandate to hold the executive to account. In so doing, Members should, prior to the DG’s briefing, agree on principle that if the DG was unable to provide a satisfactory answer, the Minister would be called in. Holding executive officials to account had nothing to do with the political parties they belonged to. The matter was important because this was an issue arising from the State Capture.

The Chairperson asked why they wanted to take a decision before the DG opens his mouth. He emphasised that the DG should be given an opportunity to speak and Members would be able to have enough time to speak their minds. Members were abusing themselves by directing questions and answers to each other.

Mr Mkuseli Apleni, Director-General of Home Affairs, said that Members would recall that he appeared before the Committee in June 2017 and presented a report on this subject. Based on the report, a letter was received from the Committee in which it requested the proof of investment and charity engagements of the Gupta family.

Mr Apleni referred to section 5(9)(a) of the South African Citizenship Act 88 of 1995, which proclaimed that “notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in subsection (1)(c), the Minister may under exceptional circumstances grant a certificate of naturalisation as a South African citizen to an applicant who does not comply with the requirements of subsection (1)(c) relating to residence or ordinary residence in the Republic". Section 5(9)(a) did not spell out what constituted “exceptional circumstances". This phrase was very important. This was the law which was passed by Parliament. Subsection 1(c) made a reference to the number of years an applicant ought to have resided in the country. Above everything else, it was the granting of naturalisation under exceptional circumstances. In June 2017, he had submitted that there was a letter from the Gupta family in which they explained what they thought constituted exceptional circumstances to consider their application for early naturalisation.

These factors were considered by the DHA and were approved by the Minister. In the letter, they had focussed on improving their investments, supporting 75 schools, reaching 50 000 people in the mining communities of North West. In his brief, he would, firstly, like to elaborate on the 75 schools. Secondly, he would like to deal with the most notable achievement. They were able to provide permanent and decent work opportunities to more than 7000 employees. Thirdly, over the years they were able to invest as much as they could in the country. They reached R25 billion investment in various entities in the country. These were factors that were highlighted in the letter and were the exceptional circumstances considered by the Minister. The decisions that were taken at lower level were overruled. When one overruled, one did not just do it. The law stated that after a decision had been taken, it ought to be communicated to applicants. A decision to reject the application of Gupta family had been communicated to them because they did not meet the requirement of being in the country for 90 days. The law further said that in the event the requirement was not met, an applicant could apply to the Minister on the basis of exceptional circumstances. When they applied to the Minister, they were exercising their right.

Mr Apleni said that he had submitted a letter to the Committee dated 7 February 2018, in which he responded to the Committee letter received on 8 September 2017 that requested clarification. In his report to the Committee, he attached 6 annexures:
• Annexure A1 dealt with evidence of sponsorship of two schools in North West Province for R12 000. The letter was signed by the school principal in 2013 and the DHA considered the application in 2015;
• Annexure A2 dealt with renovation of Chanenge Primary School. The renovation amounted to R8 000. A document signed by the school principal in September 2014 was attached.
• Annexure A3 dealt with computers donated to a school in 2013 with proof signed by the school principal.
• Annexure A4 dealt with 75 schools in different communities. There was a table which gave the name of school, the region, the name of school principal, email address, signature and telephone number.
• Annexure A5 dealt with the records of people employed. The evidence was provided by the Department of Labour, which kept all records of people employed.
• Annexure A6 dealt with an international company that kept or registered international companies;
• Annexure A7 dealt with clarification of these companies' investments.

These submitted documents supplemented the previous documents as they contained the proof of values which were not appearing in previous documents. In Annexure A2, they would see that investment in February 2015 approximately stood at 284.7 million. In Tegeta Exploration, they invested 17.3 million. There was another R13 million invested in Tegeta. Their company, Oakbay, had stated that it invested R25 billion in the country. These were companies listed by Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). All investments in the JSE-listed companies were appearing in Annexure 7. Annexure A4 listed 75 schools and provided amounts donated to each school or details and values of materials donated. The documents reconciled the amount of the total investment as it was submitted.

Discussion
Ms Dambuza thanked the DG for his presentation. She found it difficult to engage with the documents being circulated. She felt disadvantaged because she prepared herself on the basis of documents she had received earlier on. In the previous documents, there was an issue of values. The values were submitted in the new documents. She needed a time to peruse the new documents to see whether these values were matching. She proposed that they should be given time to read the new documents to enable them to deal with the matter once and for all. Referring to Annexure 4, on page 2 there was a region without a name of a school. Some ID numbers were missing. Referring to new documents, they might find that there was, perhaps, information still missing. For example, compared to documents submitted on 27 June 2017, there was a contradiction in the A Document, which referred to BBEE. It was not clear what the assessment was and what the outcome of the assessment was or whether there was refusal. When matters went to the Minister, it was not clear whether the Minister was not given the whole information. The response of the Minister to the Guptas was that he had seen their representations. According to the documents, there had been several representations that took place on different dates. She wanted to know that the Minister received all information before he approved the application. The Minister could not do such verification of the information provided. It was the officials’ duty to ensure that all information was checked and verified. In her view, the Minister was misled as he was not given all information. For example, one of the Guptas was not in the country for the days specified by law. She doubted that this information was given to the Minister. She asked when the citizenship was approved, how many people were employed at the time. The document states that there were 16 000 employees. The question was how many people were employed at the time the Minister approved their application. More time was needed to engage with these documents so that when the Minister was invited, they fully understood information in front of them. Some of the information had been “scratched” in the document and ID numbers of contact people were incorrect.

Mr Waters asked a question on administrative processes. If a person applied and an application was rejected, such individual could appeal to the Minister. Did the appeal letter go direct to the Minister or go through officials to the Minister? Did the Minister request his officials to investigate whether exceptional circumstances existed or did he rely on the word of the Guptas? Was the Minister satisfied that the Guptas were telling the truth? If the Ministered instructed that there should be an investigation on whether exceptional circumstances existed, what information was furnished to the Minister in a letter? Was he satisfied that the Guptas were telling the truth?

Ms Hlophe remarked that there was a committee of inquiry on these matters led by former Chief Justice. She appealed to the DG to speak the truth and nothing else but the truth. The issue of the Guptas had been closed. By 2017 there were 22 people who were granted early naturalisation, including six individuals from Gupta family. Why did it take so long for the DHA to furnish the Committee with the information requested? They were requested in June 2017.

Mr Apleni said that information was requested in September 2017 and not June 2017.

Ms Hlophe reminded the DG about the letter that the EFF had produced which the DG claimed was doctored. It should be placed on record that the letter the EFF leaked to the media was an original letter and the EFF was ready to push hard to expose everything. Agreeing with Ms Dambuza, she asked if today's circulated documents were verified or whether the DG brought documents without verification. The DG was talking about investment figures without giving due consideration to the money stolen from farms and Eskom and without considering that there were a lot of contradictions in the documents. There were donations to schools but there were no particulars of schools or principals and there were no contacts numbers. The documents said that there were 54 pairs of donated shoes worth R10 000. We have children and we buy shoes. A pair of shoes cost R100 and, at this price, it should have been R54 000. It did not take an accountant to see this. In fact, this was an insult to the Committee. The documents talked about lunch and refreshment but they were silent on numbers of people catered for. All the school information looked the same. The information was a copy and paste for each and every school. Documents were misleading. This was a last chance for the DG to come clean and save the nation from the Guptas. She asked if this was the same information provided to the Minister.

The Chairperson said that the DG was not a politician but an administrator. Members should not create a situation where they accuse an official of misleading them or lying. They were engaging with documents and if they see contradictions, they should ask the DG to clarify contradictions.

Mr Figlan asked if the new documents handed in were first verified to be the truth. Was money spent on these schools? What information did the DG give the Minister to approve the naturalisation? Was there an investigation on the side of the DG to determine whether 7 500 jobs were created by the Guptas? There were contradictions because another department was asserting that 16 000 jobs were created. If this information was given to the DG’s Office, the Minister could not have approved the naturalisation application. Did the DG have information why the Minister approved the application? When donations were provided there would be proof that donations were received, but the DG was providing details of principals. He had tried to make a call to four of the principals and none answered the call.

Mr Hoosen said that he would not attack the DG. It was unfortunate that it was the DG appearing before the Committee. It should have been the Minister. He was unhappy that it was the DG who was sitting in front of them. He was too disappointed that Minister Gigaba was re-appointed as the Minister of Home Affairs. They were all aware that he breached the Constitution when he lied to the nation. This was the finding of the Constitutional Court. He saw this matter of the Guptas dragging on and on. As he indicated on several occasions, the DG would not be able to answer. Every time Members sat to consider the Guptas, new documents were handed in. Further time was requested to peruse the new documents. He expected that those documents that were submitted to the Minister in the file for him to make up his mind and grant naturalisation could have been the only ones considered. They should not bring documents issued after the consideration of the Guptas' application. Documents that the Committee needed were before May 2015. There was a letter from the Embassy of India issued in September 2015. This was one piece of evidence to support the application. Many documents were after the fact. According to Indian law, one could get citizenship of another country only when the Indian citizenship was revoked or relinquished. Another requirement of citizenship was that an applicant ought to be a person of good character. Did the Minister believe that the Guptas were people of good character? The main thrust of granting citizenship was based on huge investments made in the country. One ought to ask from where this money came? It was important to note that the state was captured by the Guptas - they were using our money to sponsor these schools. There was a letter dated October 2016 asserting that the Gupta companies supported employment of more than 7000 employees. Was this true? If one looked at Annexure 5 and one looked at dates, one would find an email sent on 01 October 2015. It was an email from Richard 'Kekakane' which was supposed to be with the other documents when the Minister considered the application. All this information should have been verified? Did the Minister consider all this information? Looking at certain documents, this evidence was not there at the time of the consideration of the application. What did motivate his decision? All Members were aware that the Minister was a regular visitor of the Guptas. This information was out there in public domain. Did Minister Gigaba meet with any member of the Guptas between the date they applied and the date on which their application was considered? When and where did they meet? Was it at the office or at their homes? The Guptas claimed that they made a massive investment of 25 billion. Was there a document attesting to this in the file handed to the Minister in May 2015? Where were copies of the correspondence that was sent to the Department of Labour about annexure A5?

The Chairperson said that it was very unfortunate that there was a discussion on this matter in June 2017, which Mr Hoosen did not attend. He was asking questions that had been posed in that meeting.

Mr Gumede reminded Members that their discussion should be framed in a way that they ask if the law was complied with. They should be convinced whether there were special circumstances. If these special circumstances existed and were genuine, it would imply that there was evidence enough to support the Minister’s decision. If Members engage with the documents and find that the documents did not support the application, then the Minister would be called to justify his decision. Ms Dambuza had indicated that documents should be engaged with and questioned. The question was whether the information provided was genuine or not. There was a question of whether the information was checked and verified. The duty to verify information did not rest with the Minister. There should be someone in the Department who should have done this. This was a person who had tools to verify the authenticity of information. Such person could have been an internal or external audit. If this was not done, there should be an independent auditor to verify the authenticity of this information at our disposal. It could be a problem if the Minister did override and interfere with the decision of the DG. There should be no problem if the Minister acted in accordance with information provided to him. He was fully aware that the DA and EFF did not want Minister Gigaba. On several occasions, he had asked for a good reason why Minister Gigaba should be present to answer the DA and EFF questions. Mr Hoosen talked about the characters of the Guptas. How should the Minister know about the character of the Guptas in 2015.Their true character was known after 2015.

Ms Raphuti asked the DG what would be requirements for an ordinary person to naturalise? Ms Hlophe’s concern about the prices of shoes was irrelevant as it was not the duty of DG to check the quality of the shoes, their authenticity and price. She asked if the authenticity and price of shoes donated was one of requirements to grant citizenship.

Mr Apleni said that the main problem with some Members was that they considered the truth according to what they wanted to hear. However, in his view, the truth should be established on the basis of facts. The truth was a fact and not what Members wanted to hear. Referring to the good character of a person, he asked who would have known the people of Ngcobo would leave their church to attack the nearest police station. Who would have known their characters prior to that incident? How would you know or determine the character of the DG? How would you know what the DG engaged in outside of the public eye? The public could see the DG during the day, but they would not know what he does in the night or in his privacy until they would be revealed. A bad character of person was known only when certain things came out.

Mr Apleni stressed that the procedures of granting citizenship and how it was granted to the Guptas had been explained many times. On the question of denouncing one's first citizenship, the citizenship could not be relinquished prior to obtaining another one. What would happen if a person relinquished his citizenship and his application for another citizenship was rejected? Obviously, he would become a stateless person. To avoid this, the first citizenship was, in practice, relinquished after the second citizenship was granted.

Mr Apleni stated that one of the Guptas, Ajay Gupta, did not apply as he did not want to relinquish his citizenship.

Mr Apleni said that the information provided supporting each other. Information was submitted as they were requested at different meetings. For example, all the Annexure A6 information could not be found on this document as the proof of value of investments was requested at later stage. Every time the DHA briefed the Committee, Members requested further proof of certain unclear issues to substantiate them. Always Members would be interested in further evidence to justify their concerns. All the evidence was not in the hands of the DHA. The DHA had to request this information so that it could be submitted to the Committee. He was submitting documents because he was requested by the Committee based on their concerns.

Mr Apleni replied that the question of whether Minister Gigaba visited the Guptas or vice versa was too personal. This question was asked in June 2017 and he responded to it. Mr Hoosen was not in that meeting. On the question of how an individual became a citizen, this had been explained. On why the DHA took so long to provide documents, he reiterated that the documents were requested in September 2017 and that there were two months in which he was not in the office. In order to make matters simple, he proposed that Members should put down all the questions they had in mind so that the DG could respond to them at the next meeting.

On the EFF letter, Mr Apleni believed that letter of 2015 was not genuine, but fraudulent. The DHA was trying to find whether the signature appended to it was authentic. On the question whether money was stolen by the Guptas, the DHA had nothing to do with investigation of where money used to establish a company came from. They rather believed that once a company was established in the country and listed by the JSE, that company was genuine and legitimate. What the DHA would do was to approach the JSE and investigate whether an applicant had deposited money with the JSE and how much money. On the non-answer to calls, it was not his concern whether a principal answered or did not answered the call. He could not force them to attend to calls made to their schools.

Mr Apleni said that there were 22 people who were granted early naturalisation and asked why Members were focusing on the Guptas and not others. Why should their cases be treated differently?

The Chairperson remarked that in the meeting of 27 June 2017, Ms Hlophe had withdrawn the EFF letter. Was she still standing by the letter?

Ms Hlophe agreed. The EFF was still standing by the letter and if its authenticity was doubted, it should be investigated.

The Chairperson noted. The letter produced by the EFF should be subjected to forensic investigation to ascertain whether it was genuine.

Mr Hlophe submitted that the DG’s new documents were inflated and should be subject to investigation.

Mr Waters said that he believed that the Minister made a decision on the basis of documents in front of him. There might be correspondence between the Minister and the DG and such correspondence should be submitted to the Committee.

Ms Dambuza warned Members that they should not take the matter to far. They should carefully study the documents in front of them. They had made a request for documents. Documents were submitted to them to engage with thoroughly. The Committee had researchers and legal advisors. It was time that the Committee should solicit the views of the legal advisors and researchers. They should be called to guide the Committee. Members ought to undertake their oversight duties. In exercising their duties, they ought to put politics aside and scrutinise the documents in front of them. At Committee level, there was a need for discussion and verification of documents.

Mr Hoosen said that he believed that the Guptas’ character was determinable in 2015. There was a lot of information in the media illustrating that their characters were questionable.

The Chairperson reiterated that Members should not raise political concerns with departmental officials. Officials should be trusted in the work they do and they should be engaged with on the basis of documents and evidence they provide. There would be no further question as it was time to adjourn the meeting.

Mr Apleni asked if Ms Dambuza’s proposal was accepted.

Ms Hlophe asked what the proposal entailed.

The Chairperson replied that no one had challenged Ms Dambuza’s proposal or provided an alternative proposal and therefore her proposal stands. Ms Hlophe was not listening that was why she did not hear what the proposal was.

Mr Hoosen and Ms Hlophe asked Ms Dambuza through the Chairperson to repeat her proposal and to place the proposal on record.

The Chairperson replied that the proposal was submitted in their presence. He asked who was seconding the proposal.

Mr Gumede and Ms Raphuti seconded.

The Chairperson noted the DHA officials were excused and Ms Dambuza’s proposal stood.

The meeting was adjourned. However, Members carried on discussion after the adjournment of meeting.
 

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