Mkhize mulls Gupta citizenship
Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize says she will revoke the Gupta family’s citizenship should there be concrete proof they did anything wrong.
Mkhize underwent a baptism of fire soon after she was appointed as head of the department with allegations that members of the Gupta family were given preferential treatment by her predecessor, Malusi Gigaba, who is now the finance minister.
This week, Mkhize defended Gigaba’s decision to grant the family – particularly Atul Gupta’s mother Angoori and wife Shivani – citizenship in 2015, saying he didn’t break the law.
The family members were granted early naturalisation after they appealed a decision rejecting their applications, which were dismissed on the grounds that they did not meet the requirements. Anyone who applies for naturalisation must live in the country for five years and cannot be out of the country for longer than 90 days.
“Legislation gives categories of individuals whose applications should be revoked. A clear category is when someone is found guilty of having committed a criminal offence. Should anything concrete be found, there is room to reverse the decision,” said Mkhize.
She said it was difficult to make a decision based on stories carried in the media and, until such time that the state capture controversy surrounding the Guptas was tested, she could not act because doing so could open her up to a legal battle.
“The rule of natural justice dictates that everybody is innocent until proven guilty. You must get the other side of the story. Up to now, I don’t even know what their side is. What is strange is that they have not even contacted the department and their name is flying around,” she said.
“Maybe they have learnt that, in South Africa, there is too much democracy. People say what they like and nobody has to test whatever is said, it just goes to the papers ... I don’t know.”
Mkhize said her department had done all the checks on how Gigaba reached his decision and nothing sinister was found.
Meanwhile, a report submitted to the chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs by its director-general Mkuseli Apleni has revealed that Gigaba broke the law by failing to table the names of the affected family members in Parliament. Apleni said it was an omission on their part.
“The department is in preparation for tabling of outstanding names,” the report said.