07/03/2018 06:32 SAST | Updated 07/03/2018 06:32 SAST

Sisulu: I'm Surprised To Hear The Guptas Aren't Citizens

Why are they on the voters' roll if they're not citizens?

Lindiwe Sisulu.
AFP/Getty Images
Lindiwe Sisulu.

International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says she is "surprised" to hear that the Guptas are not South African citizens. Sisulu was interviewed by talk show host Karima Brown on Tuesday night.

On Tuesday, Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba said that Atul and Ajay Gupta were not South African citizens. He appeared before the parliamentary committee investigating state capture on Tuesday to explain how the citizenship application was allegedly fast tracked.

Last year, Gigaba said the Guptas were granted citizenship in 2016 because of their contribution to the South African economy.

But the committee heard on Tuesday that the Gupta's application for naturalisation was rejected because they did not renounce their Indian citizenship. Gigaba said no one, not the minister, the director-general or the staff of the department ever met with the Guptas to discuss the issue.

On Tuesday, Brown asked Sisulu what this meant for possible efforts by authorities to extradite the Guptas from India, if it is found out that they are in hiding there, and if they are charged with crimes in South Africa.

"I am surprised that they are not South African citizens, because we had been informed that the entire family had been given citizenship and I thought that was the whole issue around former minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and their interpretation of events was around the issue of naturalisation. But if they are not citizens of South Africa, then I think it bodes well for us," Sisulu said.

She said that South Africa and India had very good relations, and that there was an extradition treaty between the two countries.

"We do have a treaty with India so it would be quite easy for us to ask the Indian government to allow to have them to come and stand trial, so that part I am certain of because it has been confirmed. And as for the whole process of whether or not they are citizens, that doesn't hold any water now. If we have a treaty with India, whether they are citizens or not, they will still have to come and answer for whatever it is they are charged with."

But Gigaba's words appear to have done little to convince many people that the Guptas are not citizens. TimesLive claimed on Tuesday night that there is proof that they are citizens, in the form of a copy of Atul's South African passport, contained in the #GuptaLeaks emails.

The date of issue if July 2015. The passport reportedly lists Atul's citizenship as "South African".

There are also questions about why the brothers are on the voters' roll if they are not citizens.