Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
23 Oct 2017
7:45 am

Details: The capture of Home Affairs

Citizen Reporter

The e-mails also reveal the involvement of Department of Home Affairs director of immigration Ronney Marhule.

SUSPICIOUS. Malusi Gigaba’s ‘adviser’ in the Home Affairs department has been named as a central figure in the fast-tracking of the Guptas naturalisation. Picture: EPA-EFE

The list of people at the Department of Home Affairs involved in making space for foreign workers to fill jobs begins with Thamsanqa Msomi, a Denel board member, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s “adviser.”

Msomi assisted with “a sensitive immigration matter when an immigration officer at ORT, who clearly is not trained properly, refused a businesswoman who is my client, entry into SA on incorrect grounds”, goes to Dubai as a “businessman”, and appears to have helped in the early naturalisation of Gupta family members.

“I have no relationship with the Gupta family,” Msomi told The Citizen. “Regarding [Sahara CEO] Mr [Ashu] Chawla, I got to know about him when I joined home affairs in 2014.

I guess he got my number on the website of the department.” Msomi said that as Gigaba’s legal adviser, it was within his authority to intervene in visas matters and the early naturalisation of Gupta family members.

“All officials of the department, without exception, are expected to do everything legally permissible,including intervening where necessary, to enable the department to be responsive to the needs of its clients.”

E-mails reveal a trip to Dubai for Msomi was arranged by Sahara Computers, a Gupta company. The flight and a room at the Oberoi Hotel in Dubai were booked for him.

The Oberoi is the five-star hotel where the Guptas have hosted officials from government and state-owned enterprises. Msomi denied going on the trip or being aware it had been arranged.

The Citizen has established the air ticket was cancelled and Msomi did not go.

The e-mails also reveal the involvement of Department of Home Affairs director of immigration Ronney Marhule in multiple appeals for assistance from Chawla when lesser civil servants turned down applications for work visas that didn’t comply with the legislation.

They also show Marhule handled applications from people declared undesirable for overstaying their permits after being approached by Chawla. “Decisions about matters of undesirability are taken by the inspectorate.

Marhule may only advise on how such matters maybe resolved without taking any decisions,” DHA spokesperson David Hlabane said.

The relationship between Chawla and Marhule appeared to be particularly cosy. In an e-mail, Marhule asks Chawla (“my brother”) not to forget about him, referring to the Gupta-produced South African of the Year Awards.

But this was denied by Marhule. “Marhule was responsible for adjudication and handled requests from many clients,” Hlabane added.

Much of Msomi’s and Marhule’s correspondence with Chawla was via private e-mail accounts.

Hlabane said this was due to network problems in the workplace and “restricted volume as when attachments are to be included in messages.”

Another home affairs official, Gideon Christians, may “have assisted to facilitate the immigration of the Gupta family to South Africa”, according to an Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse affidavit.

“Christians helped the Guptas circumvent the law on immigration. Gigaba appears to have intervened to deploy him back to India, where he was apparently helpful to the Guptas.”

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