SITA on Home Affairs Power Outage; Home Affairs Quarter 4 Performance; Naturalisation of Gupta family; with Deputy Minister
SITA on Home Affairs Power Outage; Home Affairs Quarter 4 Performance; Naturalisation of Gupta family; with Deputy Minister 1
SITA on Home Affairs Power Outage; Home Affairs Quarter 4 Performance; Naturalisation of Gupta family; with Deputy Minister 2
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) were called to explain the reasons for the downtime in all Home Affairs offices on Friday, 10 August 2018 and Monday 13 August 2018. The explanation was that it was a catastrophic event that not only affected Home Affairs but all IT services of government. The SITA CEO briefed the Committee on the power outage at the SITA Centurion Data Centre which affected services involving the National Population Register, the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) and the Live Capture System at Home Affairs.
The crash on Friday was caused by a power outage in Tshwane due to faulty cables. SITA's backup generator was low on diesel fuel plus the fuel pump then burnt out and a new pump had to be installed.
The Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) system kicked in which relies on batteries. Due to high workload, the batteries died and the UPS system failed. On Monday morning it was discovered that SITA's Centurion data centre had been running on battery power since the outage on Friday and there was a power outage again. “It is very rare to have such a disaster where every back-up in place fails, and it’s still unknown what caused the fuel pump to burn”, admitted SITA, CEO, Dr Mohapi. The major reason for outages is a power problem.
DHA is embarking on a programme, with SITA and Dimension Data, to create resilient system hosting environments (Tier III Data Centres) as a sustainable solution to ensure continuous power provision to DHA systems. In a Tier III Data Centre environment every component such as air-conditioning, UPS, and generator are duplicated to allow continuity even when there is failure by one of the components. DHA envisages that all hosting shall be done concurrently at New Corporation Building in Pretoria CBD, and at SITA Centurion to allow for availability and load sharing of client transactions depending on volumes.
Members expressed serious concern and frustration because SITA had appeared several times before the Committee for similar incidents and each time it made promises and assured the Committee it had found solutions, yet the problem persisted. Some Members proposed that DHA divorces from SITA. “Home Affairs is the heartbeat of this country, said the Chairperson, “without it the country is non-functional”. Considering Home Affairs is a national key point, security is key. Members appealed to DHA be more caring and not self-servicing to people on the ground and communicate with clients when systems are down and to have a strategy to manage the long queues at Home Affairs offices.
Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Fatima Chohan, congratulated the Committee Chairperson on his appointment. She introduced the Acting Director General, Mr Thulani Mavuso, who highlighted DHA's achievement of 91% of Quarter 4 targets. DHA had spent its full budget allocation of R8.4 billion for 2017/18.
Members raised concerns about the relationship between VFS and the Guptas, DHA's own revenue management, the problem of undocumented immigrants in South Africa, the replacement of the Green Barcoded ID book, and the delay in the Border Management Authority Bill and the lack of response from other departments involved in the Integrated Border Management Strategy.
The Parliament Research and Legal Services Units briefed the Committee on the discretion of Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, to grant early naturalisation to Gupta family members. The Minister has the power to grant early naturalisation to a person who did not meet the requirements of the Citizenship Act. It was established that Ajay Guptas wife Shivani and his mother Angoori did not meet the requirements but it was difficult to determine the circumstance the Minister used to exercise his power. The units advised a follow up on the explanation to understand what other information was considered other than the submission. The Research and Legal Services Report also included a breakdown of the Gupta Leak emails related to Home Affairs, some of information on the family since the mid-1990s, and when each member entered the country. It also identified gaps in information and concerns, and persons to be called for further clarity.
Chairperson opening remarks
The Chairperson noted the first agenda item was not on the original agenda but had to be included consequent to the systems downtime which happened in all Home Affairs offices on Friday, 10 August 2018. The most vulnerable people were impacted, having paid taxi fare, and possibly their last money, to travel to Home Affairs offices only not to receive service. "Home Affairs is the heartbeat of this country, without it the country is non-functional”. What does it mean for new born children, people who will be travelling, those who need death certificates, and people who are getting married if Home Affairs is not able to provide services? This was not a once-off occurrence as the systems were down regularly at DHA offices. The implication is that the State is not able to deliver reliable services to the citizens of South Africa. Thus it was a matter that the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs felt needed to be addressed urgently which was why the DHA led by the Deputy Minister, the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services including the Department, and SITA had been invited to the meeting to explain the reasons for the downtime.
SITA had appeared several times before the Committee for similar incidents and each time it made promises and assured the Committee it had found solutions, yet the problem has persisted. The Chairperson informed stakeholders that Parliament has a responsibility to call for accountability in such instances and a report will be submitted to the National Assembly on the outcome of today’s engagement and commitments. SITA was encouraged to be open and honest about what exactly the problems are so that the Committee can assist.
Deputy Minister opening remarks
Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Fatima Chohan, extended her congratulations to the Chairperson as it was her first time appearing before the Committee since his appointment. She introduced the Acting Director General, Mr Thulani Mavuso, replacing former Director General, Mr Mkuseli Apleni, who resigned after eight to ten years in public service to move on to the private sector. Mr Thulani Mavuso would still be Deputy Director General of Institutional Planning. After introducing the DHA delegation she handed over to Mr Mavuso to share Home Affairs experiences of downtime although it would not shed much light on what went wrong as that was for SITA to address.
Service Outages: Department of Home Affairs (DHA) briefing
Mr Thulani Mavuso, Acting DHA Director General, DHA, described what transpired on Friday 13 August 2018. At around 07:00, DHA received a report from SITA that there was a power outage at its Centurion switching centre. This resulted in the outage of these critical services:
- Transversal systems (BAS and PERSAL);
- Mainframe MCS (Movement Control System) used at the Ports of Entry;
- Live Capture for Smart identity documents and passports;
- Live Capture for Birth, Marriage and Death;
- E- mail system;
- DHA website;
- National Population Register (NPR); and
- HANIS used for storing fingerprints and photos.
When the generator power came on at around 08:00, with limited power, the DHA team started Live Capture services even though the services were limited between 08:30 to 09:30 when the whole Live Capture environment was up. The biggest concern was that the HANIS fingerprints database was not running which made it difficult to service clients. In the afternoon, at 13:30, SITA confirmed 100% power was restored and at around15:20 the Mainframe system which consists of NPR and other transversal systems such as BAS, PERSAL and MCS returned and emails were receivable. Home Affairs offices could also issue birth certificates and other documents that are NPR centered. During the power outage, DHA took a decision that passports could be issued manually for clients who had come for collection. At around 17:30 everything was restored and fully functional which meant HANIS was also working. The information received from talking to SITA support was that one Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) was down, so that was why there was limited power. Two generators were also faulty, so only one generator and one UPS were running.
Based on the interviews conducted with both SITA and DHA officials it would seem that the power failure on the ICT infrastructure was due to:
1.The generator did not automatically switch on as it was supposed to, despite the recent urgent power maintenance that was done by SITA a few weeks back.
2. As a result the UPS system could not power up the equipment beyond 07:00 to allow any Data Centre operators or building maintenance staff to arrive on time to either shut down the ICT infrastructure or manually power up the generator.
Mr Mabaso explained that this incident brings into question SITA’s commitment to regular, scheduled preventative maintenance on its Data Centre. There seems to be lack of monitoring and an alert system to notify DHA, via e-mail and SMS, about any power outage or environmental incidents in advance so DHA can make the necessary interventions. SITA officials could have responded to the incident well before government offices open. A 24-hour operation centre is needed because Points of Entry and Foreign Missions operate in different time zones and get impacted without the needed support. The fact that the Mainframe systems could only be brought back online almost two hours later after SITA had confirmed 100% power restoration seems to suggest that the generator in question did not have sufficient capacity to power all ICT equipment at SITA Centurion, especially the Mainframe. In terms of the way forward, DHA wants to have a 99% uptime for all its systems to prevent the adverse impact not only on the Department’s reputation and brand, but also to DHA clients that lead to repeat visits resulting in wasted time and money. The monetary loss is not quantifiable. Unfortunately, when services are down due to the fault of third parties the third party is not confronted by DHA clients, rather DHA management is confronted.
Home Affairs is embarking on a programme to create resilient system hosting environments (Tier III Data Centres) as a sustainable solution to ensure continuous power provision to the DHA systems. In a Tier III Data Centre environment every component such as air-conditioning, UPS, and generator are duplicated to allow continuity even when there is failure by one of the components. DHA envisages that hosting of its systems shall be done concurrently at New Corporation Building in Pretoria CBD, and at SITA Centurion, to allow high availability and load sharing of client transactions depending on the volumes at hand.
There was another incident of loss of network connectivity, on Monday 13 August 2018, due to faulty carrier network equipment belonging to Broadband Infraco (BBI) which interrupted SITA’s network backbone meaning that the whole of Government’s ICT services hosted at SITA Centurion were not available to either government officials or the public. The only way forward for DHA to guarantee the uptime/availability of its ICT services should include the construction of the Tier III Data Centres, Mr Mavuso emphasised.
The Chairperson asked if there was any interest at the Executive level, “has the Minister of DTPS and the Minister of Home Affairs engaged on this?” The problem has been continual and the invite to the meeting was intentionally extended to the Executive to hear from them what it is doing to solve problem.
Deputy Minister Chohan responded that there had been several engagements both bilaterally and with the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs. The issue is not lack of interest but a lack of resolution of the problems. Yesterday, 13 August 2018, the downtime was sorted out relatively quickly compared to previous times - 90 minutes is not too long for a technician to fix the problem. However, if you are a citizen waiting in the queue for hours and you eventually get inside the Home Affairs office and the system shuts down, it is very frustrating. One of her responsibilities as Deputy Minister is the Batho Pele initiative which aims to improve the client experience. DHA officials have been trained and offices have been reorganised to ensure maximum efficiency and a better customer experience. “A lot of money has been spent on the initiative but when you are faced with a client and the system is not working, there is nothing you can do to express the values of Batho Pele, which are about leadership, except to apologise”. It is not easy to work at Home Affairs, the tasks faced by officials due to lack of sufficient resources are not easy. A lot of the positive happenings at Home Affairs was because of dedicated officials who go above and beyond the call of duty and work on Saturdays when systems go down during the week to ensure targets are met. They do so without overtime pay and sacrifice time with their families. So, it is not that there is a lack of interest, it is a matter the Department is extremely concerned about, she stressed. It will not be solved if there is a public dispute, it should be resolved through collaboration and mutual effort.
The Chairperson followed up and asked how DHA relays with SITA daily to deal with the challenges. Who meets and how often?
The Acting Director General, Mr Mavuso, replied that DHA meets regularly with the SITA CEO. On 16 May 2017, DHA made an agreement with SITA on network connectivity and Home Affairs networks. SITA confirmed and agreed to bring in a third party (Dimension Data) to assist DHA to redesign the architecture of its network, and to perform network capability assessments to know what remedial actions can be put in place so it can respond on time while redesigning the whole architecture network. The third party was appointed and every Thursday, DHA, SITA and Dimension Data meet and very good reports have been produced. Three problem areas have been identified. Most of the outages at the DHA were related to electrical power failure. In July 2018, 487 power incidents were reported and in July 391 incidents so there has been a drop. The second problem is Telkom data lines. Most of the Telkom infrastructure is still copper based and the theft of the Telkom data lines is a problem. In the Soshanguve office, every time Telkom replaces the cables they are stolen the following day. SITA tried to power the office through a microwave solution. The third problem is the Last Mile to the DHA offices which is a service provided by other telecommunications companies. There was unstable Last Mile infrastructure in most instances such as the Ulundi office where the telephone lines provided by the telecom were unstable. The redesign of the architecture will deal with this issue. SITA did present this to a joint committee meeting last year. The Dimension Data team is working with SITA to develop the architecture to resolve and mitigate outages. Having 99% uptime on the DHA network is crucial because marriages and death certificates are now being brought over to the modernised system so it could not afford to have any downtime.
SITA Centurion Data Centre Power Outage: briefing by SITA
Ms Nokuzola Ehrens, SITA Board member, acknowledged that SITA had been aware of the power outages last week and had issued a media release to explain that it did have general problems – SITA’s main Data Centre in Centurion was affected by a power failure. When the power was brought back up, equipment got damaged which was why it started running on battery. When the battery power ran out after 72 hours that is when there was power outage again on Monday.
The SITA CEO, Dr Setumo Mohapi, presented an assessment of the challenges. He offered his sincere apologies to the Committee and to members of the public. It was a catastrophic event that not only affected Home Affairs but all IT services of government.
Dr Mohapi explained that Centurion Data Centre and main Switching Centre represents the hub of SITA services. There are at least four power systems operating that were tested regularly. It was tested just weeks before the power outages. Two power grid systems are provided to SITA through Tshwane Municipality and the generator system that is able to take care of all the power services at the Data Centre should the power grids fail. All the generators are new and under warranty based on the commitments made previously by SITA to the Portfolio Committee. There is also a UPS system that operates should the grid or generator power fail. A UPS system is not meant to carry all the load if the grid power and generator power fail for a long period as the battery can run flat which fails the entire power system. In the early morning of 10 August 2018 both power grids failed so the municipal system failed and the generator kicked in. However, the fuel pump for the generator burnt out, then the UPS system kicked-in which relies on batteries. Due to high workload, the batteries died and the UPS system then failed. The fuel pump was replaced and by midday the generator system went back online and was used to power the batteries of the UPS system. The power grids were restored at 15:21. “It was very rare to have such a disaster where every back-up in place fails, and it’s still unknown what caused the fuel pump to burn”, admitted the CEO. In terms of remedial action SITA is going to intensify communication with the City of Tshwane to ensure timeous notification of power outages. SMS notifications did not go through to all stakeholders and this will be further investigated to hold the responsible persons accountable. It will also install additional fuel pumps on the generators and keep emergency fuel pumps for manual operation.
There was another catastrophe on Monday, 13 August 2018, due to the power outage that happened on Friday 10 August 2018 in Centurion. The BBI transmission equipment inside the SITA Centurion Switching Centre which had been running on battery power since the power outage on Friday, switched off after the battery was depleted. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the circuit breaker on the main power grid which feeds BBI transmission equipment had tripped when the municipal power was restored on 10 August; causing the equipment to continue running on battery power as it was not receiving any power from the main power feed. There were also no SMS notifications on occurrence of this incident. The amperage on the main power grid was adjusted and the circuit breaker restored. The BBI transmission equipment was powered up at 11:40 and all impacted networks were restored. BBI has assured them that it will have better monitoring of the systems it provides to SITA.
Dr Mohapi reported that the immediate remedial plan between zero and three months was underway. The IT Asset Management Audits are almost complete for the DHA Local Area Network (LAN) offices. A Network Performance Assessment report had been done and a Cyber-Security Advisory Assessment as well as a Security Penetration Test on LAN and perimeter environments. The major reasons for outages in the top three regions (Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo) were power failures, unstable Last Mile Teleco and Telkom data lines. The findings also show that across the network at Home Affairs offices and across the SITA network there is a power problem and that is part of the zero to three months’ remedial action. The equipment in use by Home Affairs offices is very old. There are 398 devices which are totally obsolete and need to be replaced urgently. The IT security environment is also very worrying and will be addressed together with DHA. SITA and DHA will also be working together on the consolidation of the Data Centres. The remedial action is to use secure Data Centres. Someone has been appointed to build a completely new Data Centre environment for government and the intention is to finish the project by the end of this financial year. In closing, Dr Mohapi expressed the view that the addition of operational experts will end the period of instability and said, "Although it may not feel that way, SITA now knows exactly where to address problems and the plan of action is quite clear”.
The Chairperson said considering Home Affairs is a national key point, security becomes key. He wanted to hear with whom SITA had engaged since this event had affected the whole of government. He asked if there were any other meetings with government, other than the Home Affairs portfolio, to which SITA was called to account?
Mr M Hoosen (DA) said that the whole incident should be embarrassing for everyone. “Can you imagine that on 10 August 2018, the South African government came to a shutdown, not only in the country but all over the world where there is access to the Home Affairs system". Members of the public have often expressed frustration through telephone, email and SMS, about having to wait in long queues not knowing when the system is going to go back online. One of the weakness is that most Home Affairs officials have no information on when the system should go back online so they cannot give any feedback to the public. The problem is a lack of communication to the people on the ground and not only between SITA and DHA senior management. From the SITA report, it sounded like a comedy of errors. He could not believe the whole country shut down because of the failure of one generator fuel pump. There should be capacity and systems in place to prevent such incidents. SITA had been before the Committee three times. It had made several undertakings to the Committee. One of the things Dr Mohapi had said previously was that the problem was not so much about network but rather more about management and he explained that a new management layer would be introduced which would make a major difference. Now it is reported that the problem is no longer about network, and no longer about management, it is now a power problem. He did not like that SITA identified and reported a different problem each year it presented to the Committee. In his view, there has been little progress on the ground, perhaps at a technical level, but to the ordinary ‘man on the street’ nothing has changed. Home Affairs has to carry the bad reputation for SITA’s failures, “it almost feels like an abusive relationship with SITA, they come here every year to apologise for being an abusive husband and then we forgive them and they go away and but then the next year they come again with the same problems. The network problem has been ongoing for years. Once and for all DHA must remove itself from SITA. His suggestion was for DHA to divorce from SITA so there can be some level of certainty at Home Affairs offices.
Ms H Mkhaliphi (EFF) said she was first informed of the problem by a member of the public and initially thought it was a local problem until she heard on the news that it was happening all over the country. She agrees that there is a communication problem. If DHA had been proactive and informed the Committee there was a problem then Members could have also communicated to the people on the ground. However, this was not a DHA problem. On 6 September 2016, Dr Mohapi said in a joint meeting of this nature that as a new SITA employee he had identified the problems and will bring interventions and experience from his previous job. The former Director General, Mr Mkuseli Apleni, did a presentation in the same meeting and as per the minutes he said, "the DHA must be exempted from SITA because this problem is a continuation of a problem” and proposed that Home Affairs must be divorced from SITA. Is there political will from the Executive of DHA to deal with this matter? She asked the Deputy Minister about the outcome of that discussion by the Executive since the proposal was tabled two years ago. “Why are we not divorcing from SITA because being in an abusive relationship is not going to help". As a political head of the Department the Deputy Minister is supposed to do something because the problem is getting worse. The SITA CEO, Dr Mohapi, promised 'heaven' and the former Committee Chairperson cautioned him not to rush things. However, he insisted that the problems had been identified and there were interventions. DHA deals with poor people who spend money on transport to get to Home Affairs only to find that there are no services. This problem could not be solved in the meeting as the meeting. Action is only taken after the problem and not beforehand. The presentation did not provide tangible solutions. Why is DHA not using the same network as SARS or the banks? “What is the problem here? Why are we married to SITA who is not helping us?”
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC) asked if SITA has the capacity for this system? It seems there is no capacity; you cannot have problem at 02:00 and only solve it at 19:00. Can it please use the SARS system?
Ms N Dambuza (ANC) asked when did the two generators stop working and for how long? What was done in the meantime? What is the risk management, is there enough capacity for it? Have they discussed internal staff not been trained by the service provider to at least switch on and off the network? Do they currently have the budget for a new Data Centre?
Mr M Kekana (ANC) said there is a visible management crisis in DHA and SITA. Corruption also seems to be at play as this was a build up to ask for a third force - which means it will get an independent company to deal with the problem. Does the Ministry have an interest in these challenges? He believes the answer is no. Such incidents would never happen if the Ministry was hands-on. Home Affairs and SITA are national key points. SITA board members must know their role and get the right legal department as this problem shows it does not have the right management. Board members must account and ensure that everything is clear and proper. As a former administrator when people did not do what they were supposed to do and then did it again he would issue a written warning and then the next time it happened would result in possible dismissal. He pleaded for SITA to make sure no third force comes and works for the national key points. SITA and DHA must be capacitated and should work hand-in-glove. SITA must explain its relationship with Dimension Data, for what good cause is there this relationship?
Ms D Raphuti (ANC) asked what management was actually doing for the people who were queuing at Home Affairs? As a caring government, did it go to the people and apologise? She was asking on behalf of the old woman who came to Home Affairs with her last R50 only to be told there was a problem. Home Affairs is the heartbeat of South Africa and it was embarrassing when the heartbeat comes to a standstill. She pleaded with management to be more caring and not self-serving when these problems happen. It was very embarrassing that no information was communicated to the clients. If she were a manager at Home Affairs at such a time, she would write down every client’s name and from where they come so that they can be reimbursed for travel costs.
Does SITA vet its service providers and how often? It was unacceptable for generators not to be working. The sole reason for a generator is to immediately kick-off as back up if something happens. Imagine if it were a hospital, how many people would have died! A public apology must be made on radio which is accessible to most citizens. Since this incident is not happening for the first time has SITA considered bringing in police officials to investigate and get to the root cause of the challenge. After listening to SITA, one senses somehow there is sabotage but this cannot be assumed; it must be investigated. Elections are near and the situation could get worse so something should be done as soon as possible. What is necessary now is getting to the root cause of the problem and investigate if it was sabotage.
Ms M Shinn (DA) asked Dr Mohapi, “knowing the personal threats made to him and other members from SITA because of SITA’s anti-corruption drive had he considered that it might be deliberate human intervention that caused the outages?” Has he asked for the matter to be investigated by the relevant security authority? It is very suspicious that everything should fail at the same time. Has SITA worked out the cost of replacing the obsolete equipment?
Mr C Mackenzie (DA) mentioned that cable theft was the reason behind the initial power failure and this Committee should deem as treason the theft of electric cables that cause the government network to go down. The power network in Tshwane is been sabotaged regularly. He noted that power outages in government are not uncommon. A survey in the United States found that 70% of US federal agencies experienced downtime of 30 minutes or more in a recent one month period. One of South Africa’s major banks has had six incidents of downtime in the last month so downtime is going to happen in any IT system. He is comforted by SITA’s presentation that it had identified the problems and there are solutions. In his view, the problem is not going to happen again. The major cause was a failed fuel pump and measures have been taken to replace it. He sought clarity on whether Dimension Data had been brought on as a partner to sort out the problem going forward and asked Dr Mohapi to confirm that the particular incident will not happen again due to the remedial action it has put in place.
Mr D Gumede (ANC) commented that outages have become very common in the City of Tshwane recently but the DA which leads the City will not be blamed as it is understood that theft is the cause and possibly sabotage. This will be left to the investigators to resolve. He asked what is the disaster recovery mechanism for DHA, SITA and DTPS? There must be collaboration between the three stakeholders that is properly managed. As the heartbeat of government, what risk management plans are there?
Mr Omega Shelembe, DTPS Acting Director General, said his Department does not have first-hand information when the incidents happen. The Deputy Minister immediately informed the Minister when he became aware of the incident and engaged in discussions with SITA to manage the problem and provide the necessary support. The challenges affecting SITA to provide services to government have been ongoing for two years now. DTPS has met individually with SITA and its clients to identify the real challenges and solutions going forward. A year ago there was a very serious problem with the issuing of certificates at TVET colleges and SITA had been reported to the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education through the efforts undertaken by DTPS to resolve the problem. The Department is continually assisting SITA to perform better. The Minister had also received reports for government to divorce itself from SITA and the discussion has taken place in Cabinet. To resolve this, DTPS has taken the mandate to review how SITA can best deliver services to government. Rather than taking a blanket approach, it will respond on a case-by-case basis. The whole model needs to be reviewed and the process is underway.
The National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) Chairperson, Prof Walter Claassen, indicated that it at some point NEMISA could be involved in matters relating to skills development, if they are at stake. NEMISA cannot respond to the other challenges that have been identified.
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services, Mr J Mahlangu (ANC), advised that his Committee needed to have further engagements with DHA and SITA to ensure there are solutions to the problem. Politicking should be excluded when resolving this as the interests of the public should come first. The engagement between the two portfolios can assist in overcoming the problems and supporting service delivery to the public. DTPS has made a commitment to give the SITA CEO unqualified support. The sabotage of electricity in Tshwane is unforgivable and SITA should investigate if this was also the case. It is known that SITA is under siege and its unknown whether the problem has been overcome. In his view the divorce from SITA should not be considered because problems will always be there. Even NASA could not launch its flight to the sun because there were technical problems; therefore systems fail everywhere. It is everyone’s duty to ensure that the services are delivered. If there is deliberate sabotage everyone should assist the system and not to simply dismiss the Mayor of Tshwane or SITA for power outages because of cable theft. It should be a collaborative effort to ensure such crimes do not happen. Collectively all the stakeholders should communicate and this should be coordinated. His main question was could sabotage be ruled out?
Ms Nokuzola Ehrens, SITA board member, responded that SITA does not want to point a finger to sabotage. However it was aware that it was ruffling feathers and the changes happening at SITA have made people uncomfortable. Without disclosing further at the meeting due to the sensitivity of the information, she informed Members that sabotage had not been excluded.
On the communication challenge, Mr Mavuso replied that when DHA became aware of the problem at around 07:00 he communicated with SITA to establish the facts. After being informed the system will be running by 09:00 he then informed the Minister and Deputy Minister. A press briefing was prepared for a media statement that was released at 09:30 to communicate to the public. Post the incident he has addressed various media houses including SABC Radio which has reached all provinces. He spent the whole weekend communicating the message on different platforms. In 2016, there was a joint parliamentary committee meeting with SITA where it made certain undertakings and in February 2017 the Minister met and there were further undertakings made where SITA asked for the opportunity to deliver the required services. On 16 May 2017, an agreement was concluded which is underway and that is why instead of divorcing, SITA must be given an opportunity to redeem itself. The reality is there is ICT infrastructure that needs to be replaced. A modern system cannot be built on obsolete structures. A huge investment must be made in the interests of the people of South Africa.
Dr Mohapi said SITA had received the report from the DTPS, it was a horrific report, and it will take it to the Minister to address it at that level. His previous undertakings were based on assumptions about the problem and environment which are different from his previous work. There he could turn things around relatively quickly because there was clear career trajectory. At SITA he discovered that the whole HR process was corrupted. So, the first thing he did was clean up the management and two-thirds of senior management (60 out of 80 senior managers) left within the past year and mostly all of them were dismissed. He has never seen a situation where a fuel pump for a generator burns, it was the first time he saw something like that happen. It was the first time that the generator failed for such a long time and no one received notification when it burnt. Dimension Data was appointed through an open market system to get people on board to help with the networks. Service providers are contracted to capacitate SITA and DHA as SITA would require thousands more personnel to provide certain services that are delivered by the service providers. It took a long time for Dimension Data to do the assessments because of limited and hidden information. If equipment is not on the monitoring system, it is impossible to know when it has failed until it is reported by DHA. He is now comfortable that there is a reliable team (Dimension Data) with experience that can resolve problems. There are more young and competent people with experience who are now running the services. The fundamental issue is skills which is related to governance. SITA has enforced a policy that people cannot stay on over the retirement age. He takes accountability as the leader of the organisation and will not shift the blame. He is confident that the new Tier Data Centre with primary, secondary and disaster sites with modern hosting systems will improve things. The situation is unlikely to happen again. The immediate plans are to stabilise the power systems and consider the cyber security environment at an architectural and technical level and put in new systems. The network operation centre environment will be rebuilt and people will be trained accordingly.
Mr Shelembe, DTPS Acting DG, committed to continue monitoring the undertakings made by SITA and facilitate the reporting to the Portfolio Committees as part of its oversight work.
Mr Hoosen said to get to the bottom of challenges the Committee needs to understand whether it is a management problem or a power problem or is it a sabotage problem. Sabotage should not be used as an excuse to try put the problems aside. If sabotage was being considered, a report must be submitted stating the direct cause of the shutdown was due to sabotage.
The Chairperson agreed that if there were suspicions of sabotage this must be dealt with by the highest office of the police. Parliament considers threats to any officials as a serious matter and it cannot be allowed that people who are fighting corruption are being threatened. Government must fight corruption without fear or favour. He also asked if DHA had budgeted for the new system and purchase of new equipment? He warned about the danger of contracting too many service providers due to security of information and state.
Ms Raphuti emphasised that sabotage cannot be excluded and it must be part of the investigation. She requested pictures of the incident (burnt fuel pumps etc) to be included in the report to able to see the severity of the damage and to make others aware of what was happening.
Mr Kekana said great concern that he was not convinced that third party service providers are always needed to do the work on behalf of government as the use of private companies compromises job opportunities for the people.
The Chairperson thanked all stakeholders for their inputs and concluded the Committee will give them one month to come back to report on the outcome of the investigations to the joint committees. The Committee expects all stakeholders to engage and agree on the way forward.
Department of Home Affairs 2017/18 Quarter 4 Performance
Mr Thulani Mavuso, Acting DHA Director General, unpacked the strategic objectives. The Department achieved 29 of the 32 targets representing a 91% achievement rate. Each quarter there was a quarterly review with senior managers to report on performance and what remedial actions had been put in place to ensure targets are achieved.
Programme 1: Administration Moving forward DHA wants to ensure it has an integrated and digitized National Identity System that has biometric and biographic data of every person in the country in one system. A new system is in development called enhanced Movement Control System (EMCS) with full biometric scope to enable the capturing of biometric data of all travelers who enter or visit South Africa legally. This system is going to replace the current MCS. It will be more advanced and will be able to match the scanned passport with the fingerprints of the traveller upon entering or leaving South Africa. DHA understands that currently its footprint is inadequate which is why it has partnered with the banks to assist it to achieve secure, effective, efficient and accessible service delivery to citizens and immigrants. A lot of time has been put into ensuring there are systems in place to achieve a clean audit through good governance and administration through ethical conduct and zero tolerance to crime, fraud and corruption. Citizenship and its amendment processes are now going to be processed through Live Capture. The target that has not been achieved under Programme 1 is the new EMCS. It is still at the development stage. The technical specifications have been approved and development is in the final stages. Also, only 27% of misconduct cases were submitted to a presiding officer for consideration. The initial target was 70% cases.
The achieved targets included the submission of the final draft of the White Paper on Home Affairs to the Minister for approval on 29 March 2018; 71.3% of reported cases were investigated and finalised within 90 working days; process review conducted on marriage and report signed off by the Director General and submitted to the affected business unit for implementation of recommendations.
Programme 2: Citizen Affairs targets for birth registrations and ID smart cards were achieved as well as approval of the strategy document “Discontinuation of the Green Barcoded Identity Document” by the Minister. The mobile solution for live capture was done. All targets were achieved under this programme.
Programme 3: Immigration Services. A feasibility report was submitted to National Treasury for approval on 29 March 2018. 53 law enforcement operations/inspections were conducted compared to the initial target of 23. The Border Management Authority (BMA) Road Map was approved by the former Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, in February 2018. The second quarter Integrated Border Management Strategy (IBMS) Progress Report could not be submitted to the Minister as implementation reports were not forthcoming from organs of state despite requests for reports by the BMA Project Management Office (PMO). The Immigration and Refugees Amendment Bills were approved by the Minister for submission to Cabinet. Improvements were done at two Points of Entry and on one refugee reception office. 95% (instead of the initial 85% target) of permanent residence applications were adjudicated within eight months for applications collected within South Africa. 81% (1340 out of 1646) of critical skills visas were adjudicated within four weeks for applications processed within the country.
The reasons for target non-achievement: The review of the scope of business rules for the EMCS delayed the development of the technical specifications; HR and Infrastructure resources planned for bug fixes were re-directed to other strategic projects; not submitting 70% of reported misconduct cases to a presiding officer for consideration was due to limited human resources at headquarters, and other province not filling labour relations positions at provincial level to alleviate pressure on headquarters personnel.
Mr Mavuso provided the strategies to ensure the achievement of the core targets of the Department:
- Continuous maintenance of the system by Information Services
- Provinces will be evaluated continually and will be provided with the requisite support
- Engagement with the Project Office to schedule bug fix releases during weekends to avoid delays at offices during weekdays
- Information Services should obtain licences before offices go live
- Government Printing Works (GPW) to calculate its ad hoc capacity to be more responsive to the high demand for Smart ID Cards
- Information Services should increase the bandwidth as and when new offices are rolled out and implement the change request to fix HID errors.
- Digitize records.
Mr Gordon Hollamby, DHA CFO, noted that DHA had spent its full budget allocation of R8.4 billion for 2017/18. The amount taken back by National Treasury was R660 000. It had also spent 100% of its self-funding allocation which was over R1 billion. The self-funding allocation is a vehicle provided by National Treasury to spend money DHA collects regularly. Some of that revenue can be spent on the production of enabling documents.
It had spent its full allocation per economic classification and it was under pressure on the compensation of employees. The Department is not able to fill any posts as it does not have funded vacancies. The DHA has spent its 100% of its budget allocation for the past three years. The Department had opted not to request funds to be rolled over to 2018/19. The rest of the report detailed the self financing expenditure and the final revenue collected. DHA received R264 000 from SAPS for the upgrading of the Automated Biometric Information System.
The Chairperson requested a breakdown of expenditure per quarter to link the budget to the achievement of targets. He asked if the non-achieved targets were carried over and met. On the management of its own revenue, is there a special account or does it go to National Treasury and is reallocated to DHA? Does the DHA receive the money in a separate account? What is the relationship like between DHA and Treasury on the management of its revenue? How many bank accounts does DHA have? Where are the accounts held? Who are the signatories of the account? How much interest is DHA making and where is it declared and spent?
Mr Mavuso responded that it will be more appropriate to provide the breakdown of expenditure per quarter when it comes to present the Annual Report. Some targets achieved have a cumulating effect. VFS collects the application fee for process of administration but the product fee that leads to processing of visas goes to the DHA. VFS does a reconciliation and transfers the money to the DHA. The revenue comes straight from VFS to DHA. The contract with VFS is ending in December 2018.
The Chairperson requested a written report of the money DHA has spent on Lindela (for rental, security, medical costs etc.) to be submitted to the Committee in seven days.
Ms Mkhaliphi sought clarity on VFS. There are rumours that it is linked to the Guptas. Is there any relationship between VFS and the Guptas? On an International Relations study tour in Canada, they were told that the Minister of Home Affairs came to Canada to launch VFS. She was pleased to be informed that the contract with VFS was coming to an end so the Committee can monitor the process of the new appointment. There was a problem of reflecting the Home Affairs revenue collected outside the country, in its books. Had this been resolved? The Committee does not do oversight visits she informed the newly appointed Chairperson. She has been a member of the Committee for three to four years but had only been on one oversight visit. This the Committee mainly relies on the information provided by officials at the meetings. Only when it receives phone calls from the public is the Committee informed about the problems. The Committee is not doing its job in terms of oversight. How does DHA link "effective, efficient and accessible service delivery" to the great challenge of long queues? The measurement of service delivery also must talk to the happiness of the people on the ground. It does not seem likely that DHA will achieve any good results soon with the long queues. There is a problem at management level as there is no strategy to deal with the problem of long queues. The Departmental officials themselves provide different reasons as to the cause of the problem. “What is the strategy DHA is working on to ensure long queues are a thing of the past?” Which stakeholders is DHA in partnership with? In her view the presentation was contradictory (slide 13 and 32). There is a huge problem of vacancies at Home Affairs. She commented that the reported cases of misconduct, on slide 17, are clubbed together with no categorisation of type of offences. Is there a reason DHA had provided the statistics of permanent residents and not reported naturalisation statistics? How many people have been naturalised? There is a serious problem about naturalisation of persons.
The Chairperson said one of the biggest problems in this country is undocumented persons. There is huge number of undocumented persons in South Africa. This becomes a security threat for the country. There are more undocumented persons than refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa. They enter the country illegally and do not get in through the Points of Entry. “If the territorial lines of this country cannot be protected, then there is no country". Xenophobic attacks are also partly due to the inability to control who enters the country. Borderlines must be maintained, monitored and controlled. This does have an impact on the work of DHA daily. South Africa takes a different approach to the rest of the world on refugees and asylum seekers and needs to ensure that systems are in place to deal with undocumented persons.
Mr Hoosen agreed that the subject of undocumented persons is critical to the work of Home Affairs. It can be a Committee meeting on its own because it is a massive issue. Everyone should be proud of how welcoming South Africa is to refugees and asylum seekers. Many countries in the world push them into refugee camps. The public cannot see the difference between a refugee and an undocumented immigrant. When there is high levels of anger against undocumented immigrants the innocent refugees and asylum seekers become the victims of the frustration. This damages South Africa’s reputation internationally and then it is said South Africa is xenophobic. Until the problem of undocumented persons is dealt with, South Africa’s reputation will continue to be tarnished to the rest of the world. The problem is insufficient immigration officers. Also, there is no link between the fingerprints taken at the Points of Entry and the SAPS which means undocumented persons can get away with crime and leave the country because their fingerprints cannot be picked up and matched by SAPS. What is the cost of deportation of undocumented immigrants? He proposed a site visit to some of the Borderlines and Points of Entry. He put it on record that there had been positive progress made between the Quarter 3 and 4. There was also huge progress in the management of finances at Home Affairs. The public has very little interest in some of the good work and progress that was reported on at this meeting. What they are interested in is that the Home Affairs offices must be functional and they must get their documents quickly. “As public representatives, we should be working on client representation and client satisfaction". None of DHA targets speak to client satisfaction. The targets do not match the expectations of what is happening on the ground. This must be fixed by the Committee and DHA. He suggested rather than measuring the vacancy rate, it should measure whether there are sufficient staff to achieve the set targets.
The Chairperson noted that the Immigration Amendment Bill will deal with some of the undocumented persons challenges.
Ms Raphuti said community members should also be held responsible to ensure undocumented immigrants are captured. It is part of corruption if they do not assist with the problem. She was of the view that Home Affairs should do campaigns to empower South Africans about foreign nationals obtaining documentation. South Africa is now in a disaster because our own people are also not doing anything about this instead they live, and do business, with undocumented immigrants. Home Affairs must go out there and inform the communities to work together to ensure all foreign nationals have documents. There must be public education on citizenship, asylum seekers and refugees. DHA must go to the places where it knows there are undocumented immigrants. She commended DHA that there was no overspending this quarter and that the finances were being managed well. Senior officials must be audited regularly, she urged.
Mr Kekana made it clear that the purpose of mobile trucks were to ensure that the poorest people in the country were reached by Home Affairs. He asked how far DHA was with acquiring mobile trucks? He said, "we should not be apologetic about undocumented immigrants". He has had three burglaries in his office and none of the fingerprints are traceable in the SAPS fingerprint database. Home Affairs is contributing to this failure. Do they know the role of immigration officers? The lack of resources can no longer be an excuse. He agreed that the vetting of executives is very important. Some senior officials cannot answer pertinent questions about their qualifications and experience. He requested a report on the vetting of the executive within 31 days. What is the remedy for corruption? “The first step is to consider the leadership, senior management, and check if the drives are right". The issues of Lindela require a full report with detailed information. How many consultants are contracted by DHA and what purpose do they serve? Why does DHA have a 10% vacancy rate? If there is no one in these positions where does the money go to? What is happening with the litigation cases and skills audit? Why does DHA still have a private security company and not employ its own security directly? The answer previously provided was that it would be more expensive and he felt that was not satisfactory. He requested a review of the security contracts and the way forward before they expire.
The Chairperson pointed out that litigation and vetting of senior management were not listed in the targets. Both were very important and DHA was requested to provide a full written report on these two matters.
Ms Dambuza said the vacancy rate was an important matter. What about interns? The unspent R660 000 could assist in the employment of interns. How many international agreements does DHA have and how much do these international agreements cost? The budget mentioned mobile trucks each cost R1 million. It is tough in the rural areas; elections are nearing and people do have identity documents needed to vote. What happened to the mobile trucks? Out of 300 DHA managers, how many managers were trained? There is no correlation in the figures provided on slide 12. Also on slide 14, the annual target was for 20 awareness initiatives and 13 initiatives were conducted, how was this an achievement? There is also confusion on slide 17. She requested more information on the discontinuation of the Green Barcoded Identity Document as there was lots of confusion in communities about when it will be discontinued. In her view, the report did not reflect any impact. She did not accept that other organs of state were not taking the matter of BMA seriously. There must be somebody to hold these departments accountable. She also did not understand what was meant by, “Other provinces not filling LR positions at provincial level to alleviate pressure on headquarter personnel".
The Chairperson asked what was the plan to fill the remaining vacancies? Who reports on Home Affairs international missions? What is the status of the implementation of the court order for the opening of refugee reception centres?
Mr Gumede asked when is the revised target for the public release of the final White Paper to reposition DHA as a security department and what remains to be done before then? Will it then have money if the implications indicate so?
Department of Home Affairs’ response
Mr Mavuso, Acting DG, DHA, responded about the link between VFS and the Guptas. DHA had posed that question to the VFS owners, the CEO, whether there is any link to the Guptas and the answer has been, “No”. Perhaps the answer must be requested to be put in writing than it can be forwarded to the Committee. The revenue collected admissions in the accounting books have not been 100% resolved. The audit outcome did indicate that there has been a difference in what DIRCO claimed to have collected versus the DHA reconciliation. There is a strategy to mitigate against this now, DHA and DIRCO must do quarterly recons on the particular revenue that is collected. Currently, that revenue is collect by DIRCO and deposited into the National Revenue Fund and then reconciled. DHA informs Treasury how much of that money it will be spending after which the amount it is reflected in DHA books. The Annual Report which DHA will present to the Committee soon will illustrate the mistake between the revenue collection and admissions.
The DHA CFO, Mr Hollamby, explained the revenue allocation is transferred to the Department later in the financial year (Jan/Feb) through the adjusted estimates process, that is the process in which the Department receives the money and authorises expenditure. Due to the financial year starting on the 1 April DHA spends against the expense account which is a minus and then when the money is received the books are balanced. The CFO explained he must always ensure that it collects more from revenue than DHA spends on expenditure. The DHA collected R1.4 billion in revenue in 2017/18.
Mr Mavuso replied about the strategy to reduce queues. DHA is looking at the floor space at Home Affairs offices. Part of the problem is that clients queue outside which creates a sore sight whereas DHA should ensure there are benches inside the offices where people can queue. However, not all Home Affairs offices are purpose built and they rent the buildings. The DHA wants facilities that are purpose built which have adequate facilities for clients to queue inside. In the Alexandra office an additional waiting area has been created to avoid people queuing outside. “There is obviously no Home Affairs without queues but it is about the efficiency to manage the queues". All Home Affairs offices must be purpose built: increasing counters, ensuring the systems are working and the infrastructure is adequate to deliver services. All Home Affairs offices must be identical and the infrastructure must also talk to the client experience. When a person goes to a Home Affairs office, the look and feel should all be the same.
DHA has multiple partners, such as municipalities, and is part of a stakeholder forum to address service delivery. It has a ceiling on its salary base that it cannot exceed. Accounting officers who knock that ceiling will find themselves in the Treasury's bad books for non-compliance. There is now an amount of R20 million available to fill vacancies in management.
Consultants are brought in when technical skills are required for project purposes only, especially IT, to help with digital migration. Some of the skills are limited or non-existent in DHA. So, they must be brought in to ensure that the project, where millions are invested, is successfully implemented. These are short-term projects that do not require permanent staff. DHA will report back on the number of consultants and the amount spent on consultants.
The volume of naturalised persons is not as high as permanent residents which is why they were not reported on but if the Committee desires a quarterly report on naturalised individuals it will be provided. It will also be included in the Annual Report. According to legislation, DHA must only table to Parliament cases of early naturalisation. In terms of the law, they are inducted and afterwards given certificates.
The Immigration Amendment Bill will assist in ensuring illegal immigrants appear in court within 48 hours.
When someone leaves a Point of Entry the integrated biometrics system will be able to match the fingers with SAPS. Currently, they are using different platforms and there is no integration. At the request of the Chairperson, Mr Mavuso disclosed the organs of state who had not inputted on the Border Management Authority. The BMA Bill is currently stuck with Cabinet. There seems to be a problem so it was important for the Committee to note this and make the necessary follow-up. It is something that requires urgent attention.
The mobile units have been purchased and the old ones have been refurbished, Mr Mavuso confirmed. There are 78 mobile units DHA plans to install with Live Capture equipment. It took a decision that for purposes of the elections it will install 16 mobile units for Live Capture and distribute two mobile units per province. Gauteng will only have one because it currently has three and the remaining two will remain at Head Office. Within the next month DHA will provide progress on the 16 mobile units with Live Capture.
The vetting of all DHA officials continues, not only of senior management. The cost for deportation will be provided with the requested written report on the running of Lindela.
A healthy organisation must maintain a vacancy rate of 10% that is the norm.
The DHA reported on litigation last year and would be able to provide the report again. The Department is sued by failed bidders and contractors and people whose documents were denied because they did not qualify. The matters must be defended because if not, the court will instruct DHA to implement something that is not correct.
Mr Mavuso would report back on outsourced security guards. Currently, it is due to lack of capacity and affordability of paying for overtime.
Home Affairs is present in less than 33 missions because of the costs of deploying a person in those missions. It then employs VFS to help them in those missions. The staff employed there report to the High Commissioner.
Ms Nkidi Mohoboko, DHA Deputy Director General: Human Resources, replied about the vacancy rate, saying DPSA requires departments to remain within the 10% vacancy rate norm. DHA had measured a 4% rate in Quarter 4. DHA is aware that it is grossly understaffed. A lot is happening in the Human Resources space to monitor and measure the status quo in DHA. There is a team in the Organizational Development division that is implementing Integrated Human Resource Planning where it checks in on every office and every workstation. The number of workstations and the number of employees are compared. It is aware of the intended organogram and the ceiling imposed by Treasury, and has done everything in its power to not exceed the threshold. Every branch had to identify which posts it could not go without and the prioritised vacancies were filled. DHA monitors the demand and supply of human resources monthly. Some staff members in acting positions do not get paid any extra because of the salary ceiling but the work had to be done. The Disciplinary Management Plan (DMP) had been set up to look at all labour relations cases to see if they were valid and had enough evidence to prosecute. She clarified that there were annual targets and quarter targets in the report which might have created the confusion of comparing annual targets against the achieved targets in the Quarter 4. This could be the cause of the discrepancy in the figures.
Mr Thomas Sigama, DHA Deputy Director General: Civic Services, replied about the strategy for the Green Barcoded ID books. Since 2013, it has been running a dual process: the manual green ID book and the Live Capture system (Smart ID cards). After conducting an assessment DHA found there were 38 million
Green Barcoded ID books. It has replaced 10 million of those with Smart ID cards. There are only 411 Home Affairs offices in the country and only 184 offices have the capability to issue Smart ID cards. It is running two process: one is to replace the Green Barcoded ID books and the other is to discontinue them. DHA must first deal with capacitating the offices with the Live Capture system infrastructure. However, some Home Affairs offices are very small and have network problems. So the Department has partnered with banks to assist in fast tracking the replacement and the 16 mobile units will be installed with Live Capture. DHA plans to embark on a full campaign about the replacement of the Green Barcoded ID book. There will be an announcement the Minister will make as to when the Green Barcoded ID books will be discontinued but currently they are still in use. In January, 2018, it was communicated to citizens that DHA was not going to discontinue the Green Barcoded ID book. The Green Barcoded ID book will still be valid for elections; people can vote with their Green Barcoded ID book.
Mr Hollamby answered that DHA has one commercial bank account with ABSA.
The Chairperson requested a full report on how DHA receives the money it generates and how it is allocated and spent. The Committee drew comfort that the DHA leadership had been responsive and listened to Members. The questions were responded to very well. Special thanks were extended to Mr Mavuso for standing in as Director General and his competence was credited as was that of the CFO.
Naturalisation of the Guptas: progress report
The Chairperson said that this had become an urgent matter that had to be dealt with to propose solutions on the way forward. The Committee had tasked the Research and Legal Services Units in Parliament to further source information on the naturalisation of the Gupta family and go even deeper and look at the recruitment of individuals working in the Gupta companies. This was due to public information that certain individuals have been facilitating together with DHA the issuing of visitors' visas and work permits to some of the Gupta family members. It resolved to not only look at the Gupta family in 2016 and 2017 but to go further back to look into each individual’s point of entry into the country which goes as far back as 1992. Which permits did they use? When did they apply for permanent residence? At what point were they issued with permanent documents? At what point were they issued with citizenship? These questions all had to be answered.
The Committee must be able to package its inquiry and investigation properly with informed facts and it must write to DHA to give them further information. There have been several submissions made to the Committee. Both the Minister and former DG have made certain submissions to the Committee but the Committee was still not satisfied. To the extent that it went as far as doing due diligence which was supposed to be done by DHA on the sponsorship of schools that the Gupta family is claiming in its naturalisation applications. The Research and Legal Services Units were asked to go to the schools and confirm this. The Committee must decide on an approach to take after it has heard the findings.
Overview of Committee Inquiry
Mr Adam Salmon, Committee Content Advisor, supported by Mr Siviwe Njikela, from Legal Services, outlined the history of how the inquiry started.
In a letter dated 15 June 2017, the House Chairperson for Committees, Mr Cedric Frolick referred to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs a request to investigate the allegations of state capture involving the (then former) Minister of Home Affairs in granting of citizenship to non-South Africans. The inquiry is in two phases. This interim report comprises phase one of the inquiry assessing information gathered thus far, as well as information available in the public domain, and identifying further information needed and persons to be considered for interview by the Portfolio Committee in phase two prior to a final report.
The timeline of committee meetings relevant to the project framework were:
On 21 June, the Portfolio Committee wrote to then Minister of Home Affairs, H Mkhize and then Minister of Finance, M Gigaba to come and report on Gupta naturalisation on 27 June.
On 22 June 2017, DHA submitted a report and the Director General presented a timeline of the legal and administrative processes for the applications for naturalisation and the process followed for the Gupta family. The report indicated:
- Mr Ajay Gupta, his wife Mrs Shivani Gupta, his mother Mrs Angoori Gupta, and two sons Mr Surya Kant Singhala and Mr Kamal KanSinghala applied for naturalisation as a family unit on 3 June 2013. The application was rejected in January 2015 on the regulatory requirement that any person who lodges an application should not have been absent from the Republic for a period of more than 90 days in any year during the five-year period of ordinary residence immediately preceding the date of application for naturalisation. Application as a group means that in the event a single member does not qualify for naturalisation, none of the members of the rest of the group could receive naturalisation.
- An appeal was submitted and in May 2015 the Minister approved the submission for early naturalisation, however, since India does not allow dual citizenship, Mr Ajay Gupta declined to renounce his Indian citizenship; consequently he could not be naturalised as a South African citizen.
On 3 August 2017, then Chairperson of Portfolio Committee received a letter enclosing a submission from the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) containing an extensive report on state capture dated 28 June 2017 titled, “No room to hide: A President caught in the act”. The report details all the leaked emails and how they relate to state capture and a summary affidavit relating to the Guptas and how they are linked to Home Affairs.
On 11 August 2017, DHA tabled in Parliament the outstanding list of persons granted early naturalisation in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017 (none in 2015) as required by the Citizenship Act.
On 8 September 2017, the Portfolio Committee sent a letter to DHA requesting additional information of the Gupta family’s investments and charitable contributions.
A couple of months later the Department submitted a 97-page document titled, “Evidence of Gupta family investments and charitable contributions in support of the naturalisation of the Gupta family" and it included several annexures on evidence of schools sponsorship, renovations, computers donated; confirmation of employment from the Department of Labour/UIF; certificates from Companies and Intellectual Property Commission issued to Oakbay Investments; and a letter listing companies under Oakbay Investments.
On February 2018, a letter on an Oakbay letterhead addressed to the Home Affairs DG headed: “Re: Request for further clarity on submitted documents” was submitted to the Portfolio Committee with clearer details of social investments to schools in the North West.
On 27 February 2018, a motion was seconded for the Portfolio Committee to solicit the support of the Parliamentary Research and Legal Services to engage with the documentation submitted to the Committee.
On 6 March 2018, the re-appointed Minister of Home Affairs, Gigaba, presented to the Committee on early naturalisation. He provided an overview of Ajay Guptas family application for early naturalisation. He specified that all appeals could be sent to the Minister, but they would be forwarded to the relevant line officials with an instruction to refer to the Minister if there was any basis either to uphold the decision initially made, or to set it aside.
On 13 March 2018, the Portfolio Committee resolved that private emails now in the public domain indirectly relating to the inquiry would be distributed to the Members. A revised terms of reference for the inquiry was drafted by the Research Unit for Portfolio Committee input. The relevant emails were distributed to Portfolio Committee members.
On 15 March 2018, letters were sent to DHA by Portfolio Committee staff, requesting additional information on other Gupta family members and another letter was drafted to the National and North West Department of Education and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
On 22 March 2018, Gupta Leak emails relating to Home Affairs matters were forwarded to Portfolio Committee members. Documented are correspondences in April 2015 between Ashu Chawla (former CEO of Sahara Computers) and former advisor to Minister Malusi Gigaba, Thamsanqa Msomi, to his private email address asking for assistance for visas for “clients”. Mr Msomi was Minister Gigaba’s chief of staff while he was Public Enterprises minister later becoming his legal advisor while Gigaba was Home Affairs minister and was then appointed to the Denel board in 2015. Also in the emails Mr Chawla contacts other DHA and Presidency officials related to the appointment of Home Affairs staff at the South African Consulate/High Commission in Delhi and Mumbai. Also requested is the correcting of blocked ID numbers and to expedite various visas which could otherwise have taken time to be issued, had normal processes been followed. In certain instances, the email trail shows Mr Chawla making demands for visas to be issued on the same day.
On 27 March 2018, a letter from Mr Hoosen to the Chairperson was tabled. The letter requested the scope of the investigation to be broadened. Consequently, the Portfolio Committee agreed to broaden the parameters of the inquiry to the broader process of naturalisation of the entire Gupta family (i.e. not only early naturalisation) as well as the due process followed in naturalisation in general since the last effected amendments to the Citizenship Act as per the related Regulations.
On 28 March 2018, the Portfolio Committee wrote to DHA requesting information on the other seven Gupta family members that have South African citizenship, Atul Guptas family members, and requested a list of persons granted naturalisation in the five preceding years with the dates of application and decisions as well as a copy of the Citizenship Standard Operating Procedures.
On 30 May 2018, an update on progress made on phase one of the inquiry was presented by Portfolio Committee support staff. There were considerable delays in the initial timelines of terms of reference of the inquiry in large part due to the Portfolio Committee being without a full-time Chairperson and thus inability to procure additional funding for staff to conduct interviews with DHA staff in Pretoria. There were also delays in getting information from the North West Department of Education on donations from Oakbay in part due to the Province being under administration.
On 31 April 2018, DHA provided the requested information including a list of civic services officials dealing with citizenship, naturalisation applications and temporary and permanent residence permits applications as well as the civic services organogram.
Judicial Commission of Inquiry
Subsequent to the inquiry initiated at Parliament, a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State was appointed by the President and published in the Government Gazette of 25 January 2018. The Portfolio Committee submitted evidence it had gathered to the Commission as requested in March 2018. The Commission was to submit its report and recommendations to the President within 180 days of the commencement of the Commission which was 25 July 2018. Deputy Chief Justice Zondo launched an urgent application to the High Court in Pretoria on 19 July 2018, asking for an order extending the 180 days within which the Commission was required to complete its work. The court ruled that the extension be granted for a further 24 months calculated from 1 March 2018.
Acts, Regulations and Standard Operating Procedures
Mr Salmon outlined that naturalisation is regulated by both Immigration and Civic functions within DHA. This is primarily done through the Immigration Act together with the published 2014 Immigration Regulations, as well as the Citizenship Act and related Regulations. There are detailed standard and operating procedures which define the exact roles and responsibilities for staff at local and national offices dealing with citizenship and immigrations permits. The Portfolio Committee was still awaiting the Standard Operating Procedures from DHA.
DHA permitting structure and officials
There are two main areas of competency within the Department of Home Affairs: Civic Services and Immigration Services, both of which relate to concerns around state capture. Of concern in Civic Services are the sections dealing with the allocation of citizenship and immigrations services as they relate to the provision of permits.
The organisational structure of DHA shows that Civic Services falls under a Deputy Director General who carries out the Department’s core functions granting rights and citizenship to eligible persons. Under this the Chief Directorate: Status Services maintains an accurate register of all citizens and immigrants who have acquired the right to permanent residence, registers births, deaths and marriages and provides travel and citizenship documents, determines and grants citizenship. DHA provided information on the officials involved in the early naturalisation process.
Gupta Family and Associates Immigration and Citizenship process with Home Affairs
An overview of the Gupta family naturalisation and citizenship application process was presented in chronological order and was divided into three: Atul’s family; Rajesh’s family; and Ajay’s family.
Atul Kumar Gupta (49) is the middle of the three Gupta brothers and the first to have come to South Africa. In 1993, 25 year old, Atul was sent to South Africa by his father, Shiv Kumar Gupta, to come and explore business opportunities in the country. It is not clear on which permit he entered the country. His wife and two sons came for a short visit in 1996. He applied for a work permit in 1995 at the SA mission in New Delhi. The application was forwarded to Head Office in Pretoria. The work permit was approved on 9 May 1995 for six months, valid until 9 November 1995. The family arrived in South Africa on 22 July 1995. He and his family were approved permanent residence permits on 30 October 1996 for the category of own business. The Atul family applied for Certificate of naturalisation on 2 July 2002 at Home Affairs Randburg Office and the naturalisation certificates were issued on 30 October 2002.
Rajesh Kumar Gupta entered the Republic for short visits from 1996 to 1998 with his wife (Arti) and child (Shubhangi). He applied for an extension of his work permit and conversion to business permit in May 2000 which was approved on 29 August 2000 until 29 August 2001 subject to him submitted financial statements and it was issued valid until 2 September 2003. He and his family applied for permanent residence permits in New Delhi, 2 February 2000, and his application was forwarded to Head Office and then approved 27 October 2000 with the condition to conduct own business. They applied for certificates of naturalisation on 7 February 2006 at the Alexandra Office. After completion of five years, complying with the provisions of the Act. The applications were approved on 17 July 2006 (five months) and naturalisation certificates were issued on 21 July 2006.
Ajay Gupta initially came to South Africa on a work permit as an employee of Sahara. He applied for a permanent residence permit which was issued to him on 18 January 2008, after eight years in South Africa, as against a requirement of five years. Thereafter, Mr Ajay Gupta applied for naturalisation on 3 June 2013 as part of the family, which was the required five years since he was granted a permanent residence permit, in compliance with the requirement of five years. Even though he complied with ordinary residence periods, however, his application was rejected after adjudication by the committee on 23 December 2014 because other family members of the family did not comply. Mrs Shivani Gupta (wife) applied and obtained an extended spousal permit till 21 December 2015. She applied for permanent residence permit which was approved on 7 June 2012, after 11 years in South Africa, as against a requirement of five years. She then applied for naturalisation on 3 June 2013 as part of the family. Her application was rejected after adjudication by the committee on 23 December 2014 because she did not complete five years preceding her application, she was short of two years, thus the Gupta family was advised to re-apply in December 2017. Mr Kamal Kant Singhala (son) applied and was granted a visa (Temporary Residence Permit) then applied for a permanent residence permit which was approved on 18 January 2008 after 12 years, as against a requirement of five years. Thereafter, he applied for naturalisation on 3 June 2013 as part of the family, which was five years since he was granted a permanent residence permit, in compliance with the requirements of five years. His application was rejected because other members of the family did not meet the requirements. Mr Surya Kant Singhala (son) applied and was granted a visa (Temporary Residence Permit) then applied for a permanent residence permit which was approved on 18 January 2008 after 12 years, as against a requirement of five years. His application for naturalisation was also rejected as he did not meet the requirements.
Consideration of exceptional cases
When the Gupta family was informed of their unsuccessful application as per letter dated 22 January 2015, particularly informing them that as a statutory requirement, any person who lodges an application should not have been absent from the Republic for a period of more than 90 days in any year during the five year period of ordinary residence immediately preceding the date of application for naturalisation; they exercised their right to approach the Minister for him to consider exceptional circumstances as per the powers vested in the Minister in terms of Section 5(9)(a) of the Citizenship Amendment Act. As explained above, it was Mrs Angoori Gupta (mother) and Mrs Shivani Gupta (wife) who did not meet the requirement as Mr Ajay Gupta and the two sons met the requirements of physical residence in the Republic.
In terms of Section 5(9)(b) of the Citizenship Act, the Department is required to table names of those granted SA citizenship by naturalisation to Parliament. The last report was submitted in 2012. Since 2013, DHA naturalised four families and five individuals. DHA admitted its omission not to have tabled the names which were subsequently tabled on 11 August 2017.
On receipt of the letter dated 29 April 2015 from the family requesting the Minister to consider granting early naturalisation due to exceptional circumstances, the Civic Services Branch prepared a submission for the Minister's approval for granting early naturalisation based on the motivation, during May 2015. In support of their application the family listed financial investments, number of employees and charitable contributions in the country as the exceptional circumstances that justified “early” naturalisation. Based on this evidence, it made a submission to the Minister for the approval of the “early” naturalisation of the family. This submission was approved by the Minister on 30 May 2015. It has since transpired notwithstanding this approval; Ajay did not take up South African citizenship as he refused to renounce his Indian citizenship as required by the Act.
Gupta family related companies
According to the memorandum recommending the early naturalisation and approved by Minister Gigaba, both the South African Revenue Service and Companies and Intellectual Property Commission were consulted on the investment claims by the family. The information on shares held is in the application:
- Westdawn Investment (Pty) Limited T A JIC Mining Services with 54% shares.
- Tegeta Exploration and Resources (Pty) Ltd: 48% share directly and 30% shares through associate.
- Tegeta Resource: 25% share directly and 45% share though associate.
- Blackedge Exploration (Pty) Limited: Oakbay Holds 55% shares.
- Oakbay Resources and Energy owns 74% on Shiva Uranium Ltd.
- Investments in Media and Broadcast (The New Age where they own 93% and ANN7).
It should be noted that the overall investment amount of R25 billion (which is above the legal threshold) in the early naturalisation application is not verified nor the charity to schools and employment numbers. According to a submission from the Department of Labour on 23 October 2017 and requested by the Department of Home Affairs on 17 October 2017; the eight companies associated with the Gupta family have declared numbers of employees in excess of the originally stated 7 000 employees in the early naturalisation applications. The employees amounted to close to 17 000.
Schools receiving donations
In terms of Social Investment to support their application for early naturalisation, 76 schools in the North West Province were said to have received donations. The Parliament Research Unit attempted to gather evidence of this in the absence of this being done by DHA. School principals were contacted telephonically in the absence of responses to questionnaires – as this represented a significantly smaller number of respondents.
The response rate for schools identified as having received donations has been very slow to date. The North West Department of Education was first contacted on 25 April 2018 to verify details of schools listed, but it did not solicit a response. This was followed up with another communication on 31 May 2018, with a response in July 2018. A total of 76 schools were listed as having received sporting equipment donations from the Oakbay Group. The department provided details for 68 schools. One of the schools, Reatile Middle, was closed during the rationalisation process in the province, while the email address provided for one school was incorrect, and numerous telephone numbers were outdated and incorrect. To date, a total of only 11 schools responded, resulting in response rate of 16.7%.
A total of 5 out of the 11 schools (45.5%) indicated that they never received a donation from the Oakbay Group. Some of the schools signed several acknowledgements of receipt, instead of one: i.e. for intermediate, senior and FET phases, and these were signed by different individuals. Of the six responses received from schools with donations, schools provided varying levels of detail. Some of the schools did not indicate sporting equipment received. However, most of the schools link their donations to a competition for designing wedding invitations for the Gupta wedding held in 2013. A consolation prize of R1000 was awarded to a learner for each of the participating schools. Schools were not informed about the competition in the same manner; some heard through official departmental communication and others through word of mouth. In addition, some of the schools received sporting equipment. Also of note is that two of the schools indicated that a DHA official had visited the school to verify the donation although on what date is unclear. Mperebere Primary also reported a visit from a “Home Affairs’ official in their questionnaire, however, attempts to contact the school telephonically to confirm the date were unsuccessful. However, this issue requires further clarification with the Department of Home Affairs.
Evidence submitted about 15 computers donated to Molelwaneng primary school was disputed by the former principal, Mr PW Mogotsi, on whose behalf the letter of acknowledgment was signed. Evidence submitted about the painting of four classrooms at Chaneng primary school is partly refuted by the principal, Mr SM Mmula. According to Mr Mmula, only two classrooms were painted, and the school also never received donations for sporting equipment. Evidence submitted about the donation of 75 pairs of school shoes to learners at Tebogo primary school was confirmed by the principal, Mr Lightfoot. Mr Lightfoot indicated that the donation totaled 85 pairs of shoes, on 16 November 2013. The donation was initiated after a visit from Hernic Ferrochrome, Tugela and Shiva Mining, accompanied by JIC in 2013. In addition, another donation from Hernic Ferrochrome was made on the 19 February 2014 to launch a water project. The donation was two 5000 litre water tanks and a stand, as well as a borehole. Parliament has as yet been unable to contact Odi primary to confirm receipt of school shoes.
Given the poor response rate to date, telephonic follow-ups continue with the listed schools to confirm receipt of questionnaires, as well as encouraging schools to submit completed questionnaires. This section will thus be updated as more information becomes available.
Gupta Leaked Emails Related to Home Affairs
A summary of the leaked emails was provided by OUTA to the Portfolio Committee. A whole timeline of interference in Home Affairs matters was detailed. Amongst the Gupta emails were implications of misconduct on the part of MN Gigaba, Rajesh "Tony" Gupta, Ashu Chawla and Gideon Cornelius Christians. Christians worked as the Second Secretary (Immigration and Civic Services) for the South African High Commission of New Delhi, India between February 2008 and March 2014. Prior to this, Christians worked in similar capacities in Cape Town, Cameroon and Mauritius and his duties included the facilitation of the prosecution of illegal foreigners.
On 19 September 2011, Christians (in his capacity as an employee of the Delhi South African High Commission - Immigration and Civic Services) sent an email to Chawla, the then CEO of Sahara Computers which stated "Ashu; Attached please find details of the coal". Christian's usage of Chawla's first name indicates some familiarity between the two. On or about 11 June 2013, Chawla sent an email to Christians, asking him to help to finalise his wife and son's visa by "tomorrow". This is the first of many requests to expedite visas. Later that same day, Christians replied to the email, asking where they were landing, to which Chawla replied, "I am sure you not confused about that..".Chawla sent Christians another email requesting visas for eight more people, which he identified as "TV guys". He then initiates a chain of emails with Christians regarding a two-year multiple entry business visa for one Tanvi Gupta. Chawla intended to apply for such a visa, with Christians' help, but misrepresented that the visa was for the purpose of business. In truth, Tanvi Gupta was coming to South Africa to get married to Varun Gupta. Chawla states outright that he intends to use the Sahara letter head to facilitate the false business visa and attaches a draft to this effect. Christians himself subsequently questions Chawla on this.
On or about 17 July 2013, Chawla emailed Christians asking him to get a visa for "today''. He stated that the visas were required urgently because they were launching the TV station on 9 August and that he might be requesting more visas in a couple of days. Later that same day, Chawla sent Christians another email thanking him for "all the continuous support". Chawla emails Christians a selection of Mini Coopers for sale in South Africa. The reason for the email is unclear but the nature of the relationship between the two indicates that this may well constitute a form of quid pro quo for the assistance rendered by Christians to Chawla and the Guptas. Chawla also forwarded Christians an email chain in which one Anant Sarkaria requests the assistance of Abhinav Shukla in removing his travel ban.
On or about 12 February 2015, Chawla sent Christians the passports of various Gupta family members including Anil Kumar Gupta, his mother, wife, daughter and son in law (not Rajesh Gupta). Christians may have assisted to facilitate the immigration of the Gupta family to South Africa. At the very least, it demonstrates improper influence by the Gupta family on the Department of Home Affairs.
On or about 6 October 2015, Mr Siyamthanda Skota of the Ministry of Home Affairs sent a submission referring to instruction by Minister Gigaba in which he directed that one Ms Munyadziwa and Christians were to be transferred to Mumbai and New Delphi respectively. Christians' appointment was for a period of four years and was subject to him receiving a Top Secret Clearance at the same level of Assistant Director. Major Kobese, the Director: Foreign Office Coordination (FOC) and Support for DHA, confirmed his receipt of the signed submission on 14 October 2015. A discussion soon developed between Kobese and Wesane Hlongwane, Director: People's Acquisition (HR), over which Department was to provide "a background” for Christians, in respect of the clearance required. On or about 20 October 2015, Kobese stated that "this deployment was done outside the normal recruitment process". However, in another email on or about 21 October 2015, he also stated that the deployment of Christians was an instruction by the Minister and their role was to carry out that instruction.
Further information, now in the public domain, about ANN7, the Gupta initiated news channel, related to Home Affairs visa irregularities. In the book Indentured – Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV, Rajesh Sundaram reports on flagrant disregard of the law by flouting work visa regulations and exploiting young black South Africans and migrant Indian workers as but a few of the issues that made him realise that he was caught in a web of lies, deceit and political maneuvering. Sundaram’s story emerged after he was recruited with a small team of Indian broadcast professionals and South African interns to launch the television news channel ANN7 under extremely tight deadlines by Atul Gupta and his associates. All this resulted in Sundaram quitting his job in a public spat, while his life is threatened, and his health deteriorates and his continued loyalty to the vulnerable at ANN7 is tested. The Committee received an affidavit from Sundaram indicating the incidents of these irregularities which he said he had submitted as complaints to DHA in 2013 and had received no response to date.
Legal concerns on application of policy
Mr Siviwe Njikela, Senior Parliamentary Legal Adviser, acknowledged that it was common cause that the Minister has the power, in law, to grant a certificate of naturalisation to a person who has not fulfilled the residential requirements under the Act. He said, “it has now been established that the wife and the mother did not meet these requirements". The Act is specific that the Minister can only exercise this power under “exceptional circumstances”, and yet it does not define what those circumstance. This leaves room for the Minister to determine what should constitute “exceptional circumstances”.
In law, it is usually said that there is no uncertain discretion, you are given a discretion to exercise for a legitimate government purpose. It cannot be for any other reason or ulterior motive. It was difficult to ascertain the circumstances that this power was exercised under the circumstances. Looking at the submission that was made to the Minister for early naturalisation, all it does is state the fact that these are the people who have invested in the country and have contributed to certain causes. In case law, where courts have had the opportunity to consider the meaning of “exceptional circumstances”, jurisprudence provides two shades to exceptional circumstances. One speaks to the rarity of the occurrence and the second speaks to the degree and extent. Mr Njikela explained that what this would mean is if you are considering investment as an exceptional circumstance it is not the mere fact of the existence of the investment, instead it is the rarity of occurrence of the investment or the degree of the investment you are considering. Is it rare, unusual or unique? Or it may not be rare or unique but the extent of the existence may be of such high quality that you may consider it exceptional. Those are the two guidelines and criteria provided in case law.
Given the very scant information given in the submission to the Minister it is possible that the Minister may have had regard to some other information which was not included in the submission. This needs to be noted as he could have been given an oral briefing which has not been disclosed. “It is difficult to make an assessment whether this was a rational exercise of statutory power because of the scarcity of the information. There may be a need to follow up on what else was considered by the Minister other than the submission.
Gaps in information and issues of concern
The findings identified the following gaps in the information submitted as part of the applications for naturalisation.
• It took one month from the letter requesting early naturalisation in April 2015 to when it was approved by the Minister in May 2015. In contrast, the DG reported to the Committee on 6 March 2018, that there were many cases where DHA had been taken to court by other applicants, not because the decision had been rejected or an appeal was unsuccessful, but because DHA had delayed finalising the applications. The question to the Minister is what were the particular exceptional circumstances of the Gupta family such that their application was prioritised faster than other early naturalisation applications?
• On what permits did Atul and Rajesh Kumar Gupta initially enter South Africa between 1994 and 1998?
• Rajesh Gupta lists various attached supporting documents in his permit renewal application which are not included in the information submitted to the Portfolio Committee. This includes investment letters from ABSA and CIPC company registration information. Why were these not included in the submission or forwarded to the Portfolio Committee?
• Under what conditions was it that permanent residence was approved in October 2000 for Rajesh Gupta and his family only two months after his business permit was approved?
• Is four months from application for naturalisation to approval (July to November 2002) for Atul Gupta and family not considerably faster than the usual application time?
• Is there record of Rajesh Kumar and his family leaving the country between the expiry of his initial work permit on 21 April 1999 and the approval of the conversion to business permit on 29 August 2000?
• There is a gap of two months between the April 2001 expiry of Ajay Guptas first work permit and its renewal on 30 May. What was he illegally in the country for this period or are there records of his departure and re-entry into South Africa?
• There is a three-year gap between the expiry on 30 May 2002 of the initial spousal permit granted to Mrs Shivani Gupta and next one granted on February 2005. Was she in the country during this time and if so on what document?
• Under what conditions was permanent residence approved in 30 October 1996 for Atul Gupta and his family after only one year on two six-month work visas?
• What is the latest immigration permitting standard operating procedures and why could these not be provided to the Portfolio Committee? Are these distributed and explained to all immigration staff?
• It took five months for DHA to respond to the Portfolio Committee 2017 request for confirmation of investments and employment by Gupta family businesses. The long delay could in part be attributed to the Director General being on suspension during that period, however, had DHA done the necessary due diligence in assessing the early naturalisation application, this information should have been readily available having already been verified and not only requested from the Department of Labour on 17 October 2017.
• The apparent close relationship between Mr Christians, Minister Gigaba, Mr Chawla and Rajesh Gupta should be investigated as it appears from the evidence above that Chawla and Rajesh Gupta did not have to follow prescribed procedure and received preferential treatment from government officials. In return, it appears that Christians was rewarded for his assistance. It also appears that Rajesh Gupta may have had the ability to influence decisions taken by Gigaba and the reason therefore should be properly investigated.
• Who is to be held liable for not tabling a list in Parliament of those granted early naturalisation?
• Posts filled by workers brought from India at ANN7 were not all vacant for the six months. Why was this not checked by DHA?
• What evidence is there that undocumented staff at ANN7 were warned when labour inspectors were coming and treated to lunch?
• Is there record of Indian workers being brought in on tourism visas but being employed as construction workers by the Guptas?
• It is alleged that ANN7 applied for intercompany transfer permits though they were not working for the same media company. Can this be checked?
• Can evidence be provided of the reasons for the irregular appointment of Mr Gideon Cornelius Christians at the South African High Commission in Delhi India?
Persons identified for further clarity
In relation to the abovementioned gaps and questions remaining on the Guptas and other further issues that may emerge; the following persons could be called on by the Portfolio Committee to form part of phase two of the inquiry into state capture:
- Malusi Gigaba – Minister of Home Affairs
- Mangosuthu Buthelezi – Former Minister of Home Affairs
- Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula – Former Minister of Home Affairs
- Richard Sikakane - DHA Naturalisation Adjudication Committee
- Mr Siyamthanda Skota – DHA Employee
- Gideon Cornelius Christians – DHA Employee
- Ashu Chawla – Former CEO of Sahara Computers
- Nazeem Howa – Former Group CEO for Oakbay
- Magriet Coetzee – Head of Human Resources, ANN7
- The Committee also received information from a witness who wanted to remain anonymous on the allegations around the corruption at ANN7 related to Home Affairs.
Members applauded the committee staff on the great work it had done on the detailed report.
Mr Salmon emphasised that it was a draft report that will be reworked before finalisation and submission to Cabinet.
The Chairperson recommended more detailed information must be obtained on the processes followed to issue visas and whether there was compliance before calling in the identified persons. His interpretation of what Legal Services report on is essentially the matter regarding the Minister’s discretion. He noted that there are 70 to 80 Gupta family members in the country and each one’s status must be confirmed.
Mr Kekana requested postponing discussion until the next day as talking to it now would not do it justice, it had been a long day for the Members.
The Committee approved the proposal.
The Chairperson concluded by confirming the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting which would include a discussion on the way forward after hearing the interim State Capture report and findings.
The meeting was adjourned.