Home Affairs official fired over Gupta ‘shenanigans’

 ·23 Mar 2023

A home affairs official who facilitated the processing of Gupta-linked associates Ashu Chawla and others in Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates has been dismissed from the department of home affairs (DHA).

This comes after a judicial inquiry into state capture detailed close links between the Gupta family and former President Jacob Zuma, with numerous allegations of money siphoning out of state-owned companies.

According to the department of home affairs, the visas that were requested were not issued as other officials refused to be part of the ‘shenanigans’.

The DHA said that after a five-month disciplinary hearing, the official was found guilty of three counts of serious misconduct in the performance of his duties.

The first accusation was that he pressured department officials to violate laws, regulations, and standard procedures to process and issue visas and permits.

The DHA said the second charge was that he allowed external individuals and interests to unduly control and influence him, leading to preferential treatment for some visa applicants.

The third allegation involved him engaging in highly inappropriate behaviour, including paying a bribe, it added.

Following the dismissal of the official, the minister of the department Aaron Motsoaledi said that his department is unflinching in its commitment to ensuring that it brings a speedy end to irregular practices.

He said that the disciplinary hearing is an example of the department rooting out corruption from within Home Affairs.

The dismissal of the home affairs official is not the first of its kind. The department has faced a handful of misconduct cases from within itself, with officials facilitating criminal activities.

Earlier this month (13 March), an immigration officer was arrested at the OR Tambo International Airport due to undertaking passport fraud. The official would stamp passports with a certain date for departure and re-entry.

Those who would hold such passports would commit crimes within South Africa and then say that they were never in the country if ever questioned by police – showing their passports as proof.

Visa trouble

Visas as a whole have fallen into trouble in South Africa. On 9 December 2022, the DHA reported that it was sitting with a visa backlog of over 56,000 applications that is only to clear by the middle of 2024.

According to a parliamentary Q&A from last year, the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsaledi, stated that his department has yet to process 56,543 visas. Furthermore, work and business visas currently take between eight and 14 weeks to be processed.

Read: Alarm bells ringing for middle-class and wealthy South Africans

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