13/06/2017 14:27 SAST | Updated 13/06/2017 14:28 SAST

Gigaba Admits He Granted Early Citizenship To The Guptas -- But Insists He Didn't Break Any Laws

"There is no impropriety on the part of ... Gigaba."

Malusi Gigaba.
Rogan Ward / Reuters
Malusi Gigaba.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba admitted he granted early certificates of naturalisation to the Guptas for their South African citizenship when he was in charge of Home Affairs. But he insists his actions were within the prescripts of the law.

In a statement on Tuesday, Gigaba said South African policy gives the minister of home affairs the authority to grant certificates of naturalisation to any foreigner who satisfies the requirements.

In a letter released by the EFF on Monday Mr GG Hlatshwayo, on behalf of the Director General, first denied Gupta's South African citizenship in January 2015 stating that they did not comply requirements of five years living in South Africa.

"The application was handled in line with the procedure that requires that the Department of Home Affairs submits recommendations to the minister for consideration," Gigaba said in a Treasury statement.

On Monday, the Economic Freedom Fighters released two letters between home affairs officials and the Gupta family, which shows Gigaba allegedly waived residential requirements to grant the family citizenship.

But five months after their application was turned down, Gigaba wrote to Ajay Gupta, saying he had decided "by the virtues of the powers vested in [him]" under the South African Citizenship Amendments Act, to waive the residential requirements in regards to the family's application for naturalization.

"The granting of naturalisation certificates of this nature is not unusual. Similar courtesies have been extended to prominent businessmen, including executives of multi-nationals, and sports people. There is no impropriety on the part of [Gigaba] in relation to how the application in question has been handled," the statement said.

"It is not true that Minister Gigaba opened the gates for the Gupta family; the Gupta family has been permanent residents in South Africa since 2008. Furthermore, there is no bombshell in relation to this matter, given that everything was done within the prescripts of the law."

Gigaba has requested the Department of Home Affairs to make the motivation pertaining to the Gupta's application, and any other issue relating to the Gupta family, available to the media.

"I have requested the Department of Home Affairs to provide chronological details of how all applications by the Gupta family have been handled by the Department of Home Affairs from the beginning. We have no doubt that the whole process has been handled by the book in terms of our laws," said Gigaba.