Gupta as­so­ciate sum­moned to in­quiry


PAR­LIA­MENT’S home af­fairs port­fo­lio com­mit­tee has re­sorted to is­su­ing a sum­mons for former Sa­hara Com­put­ers chief ex­ec­u­tive Ashu Chawla, who was al­legedly key in the fa­cil­i­ta­tion of the naturalisation of the Gupta fam­ily.

Yes­ter­day the com­mit­tee was sup­posed to hold an in­quiry into the naturalisation of the Gup­tas where Chawla was meant to tes­tify.

In­stead the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee did other com­mit­tee work and the Home Af­fairs Depart­ment gave a brief­ing on var­i­ous is­sues.

Brief­ing the com­mit­tee after the marathon meet­ing, chair­per­son Hlomane Chauke said they had de­cided to sum­mon Chawla and his lawyer.

“With Chawla and lawyer, we don’t find much joy and co-op­er­a­tion,” Chauke said.

He noted, how­ever, that the com­mit­tee had re­solved some time ago to sum­mon Chawla. Chauke was re­fer­ring to a ses­sion of the in­quiry when they bat­tled to get hold of Chawla to tes­tify on Septem­ber 12.

At the time he had said the only op­tion avail­able for the Gupta naturalisation in­quiry was to is­sue a sum­mons and in­struct the po­lice to look for Chawla.

“If we can’t find him, the only way is to ask the SAPS to find him. I’m not say­ing he is a crim­i­nal,” he had said.

How­ever, Chawla’s lawyer made con­tact with the com­mit­tee the fol­low­ing day, Septem­ber 13.

The lawyer had un­der­taken to make ar­range­ments with the com­mit­tee for Chawla to tes­tify be­fore the in­quiry.

Chauke then said the in­quiry would re­sume in De­cem­ber, to al­low Chawla to re­turn to the coun­try.

But in Oc­to­ber, it emerged that Chawla could not tes­tify dur­ing that month ow­ing to “out­ra­geous de­mands” his lawyer made.

The de­mands had in­cluded a re­turn busi­ness-class ticket at a cost R177 000 and the ser­vices of a Hindu in­ter­preter.

Par­lia­ment did not ac­cede to his de­mands. Yes­ter­day, Chauke said they wanted Chawla sum­moned to the in­quiry. “When we leave this meet­ing, we are to start a process of is­su­ing the sum­mons,” he said.

He said they wanted Chawla to­gether with his lawyer sum­moned to ap­pear be­fore the Gupta naturalisation in­quiry to be held on a date to be de­ter­mined next year.

“It is clear that he is play­ing games with us,” Chauke said. “We are to is­sue sum­mons for his lawyer and him­self to ap­pear be­fore the com­mit­tee.”

The com­mit­tee will sit in Fe­bru­ary only.

Chawla, now a nat­u­ralised South African, was fin­gered after he was sent sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion by of­fi­cials when ap­ply­ing for visa and work per­mits for the Gup­tas and their em­ploy­ees.

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