Minister Mkhize for South Africa’s Home Affairs has released a list of individuals who were granted early naturalisation in South Africa like the Gupta family.
The minister who wrote the House of Assembly on Monday noted that not only the Gupta family were given preferential treatment in terms of issue citizenship certificates.
According to him, the Gupta family and 22 others had special treatment to become citizens of South Africa by the former minister now Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba between 2012 and last year.
“In terms of Section 5 (9) (a) of the South African Citizenship Act, 1995… as amended, I hereby submit the names of the persons who were granted early naturalisation by the previous minister of home affairs,” said Minister Mkhize in the letter, indicating that the list stretches from June 2012 to February last year.
Among those included in the list as presented by Minister Mkhize are investors, business leaders, an academic, a top Korean diplomat and a church leader. Others include Gupta’s Mother, Angoori, his wife, Shivani, and his sons, Singhala Kamal Kant and Singhala Surya Kant, were all naturalised on May 30, 2015.
Also included in the list is former Fifa secretary-general Jérôme Valcke, who was granted early naturalisation in 2012.
Minister Gigaba has been in the spotlight over the past few months for granting the wealthy Indian family South African citizenship.
The minister defended his actions saying he awarded the Gupta family South African citizenship because of their contribution to the South African economy.
Speaking further, the minister said the Citizenship Act stipulates that he might, under exceptional circumstances, grant a certificate of naturalisation as a South African citizen to an applicant who does not comply with the requirements.
“The fact that Mr Gupta and family contribute to the economy of South Africa provided substantive grounds for consideration of their application for naturalisation under exceptional circumstances,” Gigaba.
The minister cited the Gupta family’s need to represent their company, Oakbay Investments, which Gigaba said has interests in various sectors such as media, information technology, real estate, mining and related activities.
“The supporting documents submitted included the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) company registration, as well as the formal registration and shareholding, coupled with tax payments to and registration with the South African Revenue Services,” Gigaba wrote.
The issue was raised following the family’s involvement in an allegation of state capture and leaked emails implicating the family and top government officials and politicians.
Gigaba and the Department of Home Affairs had admitted they made a mistake by not informing Parliament about the naturalisation of the family. They, however, insisted no wrong was done in granting them early naturalisation as it was allowed by the law.
The portfolio committee on mineral resources will have its first meeting on this following an instruction from House chairman Cedric Frolick for certain committees to probe the matter.
The portfolio committee on public enterprises will also meet on Wednesday to look at what it needs to do.