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.