Hula hoop and wedding card tricks
Unsuspecting school principals duped by Guptas ‘donations’
AS FAR as North West Education MEC Sello Lehari is concerned, the Gupta family never made any investments at schools in his province, despite the family listing this as a motivation for early naturalisation.
Lehari was yesterday testifying at a parliamentary inquiry into how the Gupta brothers, close friends of former president Jacob Zuma, and other relatives and associates of the family obtained early citizenship via naturalisation in South Africa.
The family listed as a motivation investments of R25 billion in South Africa, including at schools.
Lehari said the first they learned about the “alleged investments” at schools in the North West was when Parliament’s home affairs committee, which is conducting the inquiry, contacted them in May.
Lehari said when his department investigated the 77 schools listed by the Guptas in their application for early naturalisation, officials could not verify the existence of one of them, while various others had not benefited despite, being listed as beneficiaries.
The MEC said proof was found that companies linked to the Gupta’s Oakbay group had interacted with school principals in 2013 without the department’s knowledge.
Lehari said the Guptas had “secretly gained access” to his province.
“They tricked unsuspecting school principals that their learners and schools were participating in a drawing competition,” he said.
Schools were invited in April 2013 to enter a competition to design a wedding card for the lavish Sun City wedding of the Gupta brothers’ niece Vega Gupta, 23, and Indian-born Aakash Jahajgarhia.
Afterwards the winning schools and pupils were given donations, including cash prizes from R1 000 to R15 000, as well as soccer cones, hula hoops, mini-soccer sets and whistles.
“It emerged during the inquiry that what was received was not necessarily a donation, it was actually Oakbay giving a token of appreciation for designing the wedding card,” said Lehari.
The inquiry is being held after Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba in March told journalists none of the Gupta brothers were South African citizens.
The next day the Electoral Commission (IEC) confirmed Atul Gupta was a registered voter, a right only citizens were entitled to.
Gigaba and Mkuseli Apleni, former director-general at the Department of Home Affairs, are among the people to be summoned to appear at the inquiry, according to committee chairperson Hlomani Chauke.
Chauke said this week, the admissibility of the leaked Gupta emails would be looked into.
This came after the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) gave Parliament evidence and documents in connection with the naturalisation of the Guptas, and work permits and visas of employees in Gupta companies.
These, except for some taken from one news website, were retrieved from the leaked emails.
Outa said they were told the emails were authentic.
The Gupta family were granted South African citizenship between 2002 and 2006 after entering the country in the early 1990s.
MUSICIAN Vusi Mahlasela was awarded an honorary doctorate of music from the University of KwaZulu-Natal yesterday in recognition of his contribution to society and the global music industry. In his acceptance speech Mahlasela, who is an accomplished guitarist, percussionist, composer and arranger, called on all South Africans to invest in and support the arts. |