14/06/2017 11:35 SAST | Updated 14/06/2017 11:49 SAST

Gigaba Told Parly: I Gave The Guptas Citizenship For Their Contribution To Our Economy

In a written response to a parliamentary question, the former home affairs minister said they hire 7,000 people.

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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 12: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) South Africa Minister of Public Enterprise Malusi Gigaba looks on during the launch of Swazi Rail Link on January 12, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa. A boost in the regional economies is expected as the proposed 146 km link between South Africa and Swaziland will improve a transportation network that has struggled to cope with demand. (Photo by Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba awarded the Gupta family South African citizenship last year because of their contribution to the South African economy.

In a written response to a parliamentary question by the Democratic Alliance's Haniff Hoosen last year, Gigaba, who was then home affairs minister, said the Citizenship Act stipulates that he might, under exceptional circumstances, grant a certificate of naturalisation as a South African citizen to an applicant who does not comply with the requirements.

"The fact that Mr Gupta and family contribute to the economy of South Africa provided substantive grounds for consideration of their application for naturalisation under exceptional circumstances," Gigaba.

The Guptas also apparently also submitted supporting documents reflecting their employment of approximately 7,000 permanent employees at Oakbay.

Gigaba was asked what the full details of the exceptional circumstances under which he granted the Gupta family citizenship were.

Gigaba said subsequent to the refusal of an application for naturalisation, an applicant may approach the minister and submit a motivation containing material information for consideration as to the existence of exceptional circumstances justifying the granting of citizenship by means of naturalisation.

"Mr Gupta and family submitted their motivation which presented exceptional circumstances for the consideration of the applications," Gigaba wrote.

Gigaba cited the Gupta family's need to represent their company, Oakbay Investments, which Gigaba said has interests in various sectors such as media, information technology, real estate, mining and related activities.

"The supporting documents submitted included the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) company registration, as well as the formal registration and shareholding, coupled with tax payments to and registration with the South African Revenue Services," Gigaba wrote.

Follow-up questions were submitted to Gigaba's spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, regarding the minister's response. No feedback was received at at the time of publication.

Gigaba admitted on Tuesday that he granted early certificates of naturalisation to the Guptas during his tenure at that department, but he said his actions were within the prescripts of the law.

This came after the Economic Freedom Fighters released two letters between home affairs officials and the Gupta family, which shows Gigaba allegedly waived five-year residential requirements to grant the family citizenship.

The first was penned by then director general for home affairs‚ GG Hlatshwayo‚ who had written to the family in January 2015, declining their application‚ saying they had not lived in the country for the required five years.

But five months later, 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 naturalisation".