Johannesburg: A South African parliamentary panel has said a full-scale investigation would be initiated into the citizenship status of the Gupta family members, who are closely linked to former president Jacob Zuma.
The move comes after the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote a letter to the chairperson of the South African Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, requesting a probe following Home Minister Malusi Gigaba's controversial remarks about the citizenship of the Gupta family members. The committee will institute a full-scale parliamentary inquiry into the Gupta family's citizenship, sources said.
The House Chairperson of Committees in Parliament, Cedric Frolick, had instructed the chairpersons of portfolio committees to institute inquiries into alleged state capture probes on June 15 last year already, but these have been delayed for various reasons. The DA had alleged that more Gupta family members were granted South African citizenship but this was never reported to Parliament.
"Home Minister Malusi Gigaba and his department only explained the circumstances surrounding the naturalisation of five Gupta family members, when there was, in fact, a further six members of the Gupta family that are South African citizens and registered as voters on the IEC database," the DA was quoted as saying by the Independent Online.
Gigaba had earlier said that Ajay Gupta, one of three India-born brothers who are at the centre of state capture allegations, was not a citizen of South Africa as he had declined to renounce his Indian citizenship. He had said that Ajay's wife, mother and two children were only granted the country's citizenship, but when Ajay and his four other family members were denied naturalisation in 2013, they had appealed against the decision.
But after local media printed copies of identity documents and proof that the Gupta brothers had voted in an election here, Gigaba issued another statement saying neither Ajay nor Atul was citizen, but they had permanent residency permits. The Guptas and Duduzane Zuma, the son of former president who was forced to resign on February 14, have not appeared at various inquiries into allegations of their involvement in state capture and irregular deals with parastatal bodies running into billions of rands.
The Guptas, who arrived in South Africa from their hometown of Saharanpur in India about two decades ago, amassed a huge fortune through companies in the IT, media and mining sectors, allegedly through their closeness to Zuma. Their property interests in India have also come under the scanner by tax authorities there.