Kenya - Following last years Kenya Westgate Shopping Mall attack the South African passport was thrust into the spotlight. Since then, Home Affairs has tightened security around immigration laws and passports.
PRETORIA - Members of the influential and wealthy Gupta family have not been issued with official South African passports, home affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni said on Friday.
“An official passport is given to somebody employed by government and we, as home affairs, are responsible for that. For us, we have never issued an official passport to any of the Gupta family [members],” Apleni told reporters in Pretoria.
“Regarding one being a citizen of this country, or permanent resident – that information is private. If somebody now needs us to divulge information like that you have to go through the information access act and you can do that if there is [a] need for that.”
Home affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said “the department has never issued an official passport to [any] members of that family”.
However, Apleni said issuing diplomatic passports was handled by the international relations and co-operation department (Dirco).
“Once Dirco approves that, the role of home affairs is just to print. The issue of diplomatic passports is not our responsibility,” he said.
Last year, Lesotho’s new prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili revoked the diplomatic passports of Gupta family members because he “does not need the Guptas as advisors”.
The passports were issued in 2014 to Atul Kumar Gupta, his nephew Essa Omar Aziz, and a third unidentified member of the family by the country’s former prime minister Thomas Thabane, after he had appointed them his economic advisors with a mandate to help him market Lesotho abroad and recruit investors for the impoverished kingdom, wholly surrounded by South Africa.
Rumours have been doing the rounds in South Africa that the controversial family, closely linked to President Jacob Zuma, have either official or diplomatic passports.