I handled Gupta citizenship applications 'by the book' - Gigaba

Cape Town - Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has confirmed that the letters circulated on social media granting the Gupta family South African citizenship are genuine.

"I have requested the department of home affairs to provide chronological details of how all applications by the Gupta family have been handled by the department of home affairs from the beginning," Gigaba said in a statement released by the finance department on Tuesday afternoon.

"We have no doubt that the whole process has been handled by the book in terms of our laws."

Gigaba explained that he had lawfully approved their applications in terms of the South African Citizen Act of 1995 which was amended by the South African Citizenship Amendment Act in 2010.

The act vested Gigaba with the authority to grant a certificate of naturalisation as a South African citizen to any "alien" who satisfied the requirements for naturalisation.

READ: Gigaba pushed through Guptas' SA citizenship - EFF

Courtesies

The application was therefore handled in line with the procedure that required that the department of home affairs submitted recommendations to the minister for consideration.

The granting of naturalisation certificates of such nature was not unusual, he said.

SPECIAL REPORT: #GuptaLeaks

Similar courtesies had been extended to prominent businessmen, including executives of multi-nationals and sports people.

He said it was unfortunate that the focus of the country was diverted toward "spurious sideshows when the country is faced with massive economic challenges".

On Monday, the Economic Freedom Fighters said it had received reliable information that during Gigaba's tenure as home affairs minister, he unduly granted the Gupta family South African citizenship.

In a letter dated January 22, 2015, Mr GG Hlatshwayo, on behalf of the director general, "correctly denied" the Guptas South African citizenship stating that they "did not comply with the requirement in terms of section 5(1)(b) of the South African Act 2010," the EFF said in a statement on Monday.

Hlatshwayo indicated that the Guptas "did not have five years of physical residence in the Republic of South Africa", the EFF said.

The application for naturalisation was therefore unsuccessful and the Guptas were advised to make another attempt on December 23, 2015, "provided [they] do not exceed 90 days outside South Africa for every year in the five years preceding [their] new application and comply with requirements as prescribed in Citizenship Act, Act 17 of 2010 as amended".

A few months later, Gigaba, in a letter dated May 30, 2015, wrote to the Guptas, granting them, what he terms, "early naturalisation".

Gigaba stated at the time that "after careful consideration of the matter, I have decided by the powers vested in me under section 5(9)(a) of the South African Citizenship Amendment Act, 2010 (Act no 17 of 2010), to wave the residential requirements in regards to your application for naturalisation and grant you early naturalisation".

The EFF is taking the matter to court.