Some Gup­tas ac­quired SA cit­i­zen­ship in 2002

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­

Some mem­bers of the Gupta fam­ily could have voted in South Africa’s six pre­vi­ous gen­eral and mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, or even con­tested for pub­lic of­fice if they wished to do so.

It has emerged that some among the fam­ily have en­joyed their cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus since 2002, when they were nat­u­ralised.

City Press has seen copies of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers be­long­ing to Atul Gupta and Chetali Gupta, which were recorded on an ANC Gaut­eng mem­ber­ship form dat­ing back to 2008.

This in­di­cated that, by then, they were al­ready bona fide cit­i­zens of South Africa. The Gup­tas’ mem­ber­ship forms were for the ANC’s Ward 117 branch, which in­cluded their home in Sax­on­wold.

Nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion is one of the ways through which a for­eigner can ob­tain South African cit­i­zen­ship.

In South Africa, a cru­cial fea­ture of the coun­try’s iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber – in­di­cat­ing which sta­tus the home af­fairs de­part­ment has granted an ap­pli­cant (a non-South African citizen with per­ma­nent res­i­dence sta­tus or a nat­u­ralised sta­tus) – is al­lo­cated in the 11th digit of the coun­try’s 13-digit iden­tity doc­u­ment. It is ei­ther a nu­mer­i­cal 1 for a per­ma­nent res­i­dent sta­tus or a nu­mer­i­cal 0 for the nat­u­ralised citizen sta­tus.

The home af­fairs de­part­ment told City Press on Fri­day that for any per­son granted South African cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus by nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion, the 11th digit in the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber will be changed to a 0.

This digit, which rep­re­sents the cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus, means that the per­son is recog­nised as a South African citizen, ir­re­spec­tive of whether this was through birth, de­scent or nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion.

If it is the nu­mer­i­cal num­ber 1, the in­di­vid­ual has been granted a non-South African cit­i­zen­ship with the right of per­ma­nent res­i­dence.

Home af­fairs de­part­ment spokesper­son David Hla­bane said Atul re­ceived an iden­tity doc­u­ment as a nonci­t­i­zen in 1996. His iden­tity num­ber re­flected a 1 for non-cit­i­zens, while Chetali was is­sued with the same doc­u­ment in 1997.

“[Atul] was then later is­sued with a South African citizen iden­tity num­ber re­flect­ing 0 on De­cem­ber 2 2002 [and Chetali] on Novem­ber 25 2002 [in­di­cat­ing full cit­i­zen­ship rights],” he said.

Hla­bane added that both were nat­u­ralised af­ter they had spent five years hold­ing per­ma­nent res­i­dence per­mits and iden­tity num­bers, which were is­sued in 1997 for Chetali and a year ear­lier for Atul.

Home af­fairs di­rec­tor-gen­eral Mkuseli Apleni said it was im­por­tant to note that the con­tro­ver­sial 2015 de­ci­sion by for­mer home af­fairs min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba – now the fi­nance min­is­ter – to nat­u­ralise some mem­bers of the Gupta fam­ily only in­volved “the Ajay Gupta fam­ily”, in­clud­ing his wife and chil­dren.

His broth­ers Atul and Ra­jesh Gupta, as well as mem­bers of the broader Gupta fam­ily, were not in­volved in that process, Apleni said.

Im­mi­gra­tion lawyer Gary Eisen­berg said per­ma­nent res­i­dence sta­tus in­cor­po­rated all so­cioe­co­nomic rights, in­clud­ing the right to work, to so­journ any­where in South Africa on an in­def­i­nite ba­sis, to con­duct any busi­ness or en­ter­prise, and to en­ter and exit South Africa at will.

He said other path­ways to cit­i­zen­ship could be by birth, which in­cludes the late reg­is­tra­tion of a for­eign birth, or even by way of re­sump­tion for for­mer cit­i­zens who might have lost cit­i­zen­ship.

He said peo­ple granted cit­i­zen­ship by nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion or birth pos­sessed po­lit­i­cal rights – in­clud­ing the rights to vote and be­come an MP – and all so­cioe­co­nomic rights.

Mkuseli Apleni

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