School children were given hula hoops and sports equipment in return for drawing up designs for potential wedding invitations for the lavish Gupta wedding, which took place at the Sun City resort in 2013.
This is according to an investigation that was done by the North West department of education, after it emerged that 77 schools in and around Sun City were promised prizes, including money, by JIC Mining affiliated to Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments.
Non-executive board members of JIC Mining at the time included Rajesh Gupta and President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma.
Testifying at the inquiry into the Gupta’s citizenship by the portfolio committee on home affairs in Parliament on Wednesday morning, North West MEC for education Sello Lehari and head of department Stephinah Semaswe told the committee that the drawing “competitions” were done without the department’s approval or knowledge.
“Honourable chairperson, I must admit as a department we were not aware of the visit by Oakbay to our schools,” Lehari said.
He said that Oakbay had “secretly gained access” to the schools without the department’s knowledge “at any administrative level except the principals”.
Lehari said that although 77 schools were identified as having received these donations, only 68 had actually received anything.
“Twenty two of the alleged schools are in Rustenburg municipality,” Lehari said, adding that the schools fell coincidentally within the radius of Sun City.
He said that the schools reported that “an unknown agent” had approached the schools about the donations and that the participating schools received “consignments of drawing materials”.
Lehari added that he didn’t attend the wedding.
“It was not a donation in our assessments. It was a token of appreciation for drawing a wedding card,” he said.
The “donations” also ranged from R10 000 to R15 000.
Earlier on, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) representative Rudie Heyneke, who is a portfolio manager at Outa, highlighted the close ties that former finance minister Malusi Gigaba and the Gupta family.
Referring to the leaked Gupta emails, which formed the basis of numerous revelations into the Gupta foothold in various aspects of government and private sector, Heyneke said that Gigaba had deployed two officials from Home Affairs to India, where former Sahara Computers chief executive Ashu Chawla had sought their services in helping to fast-track visa applications for himself, the Guptas and employees at the now defunct Gupta-owned news channel ANN7.
Gideon Christians, who was one of the officials, was quoted in an email by Heyneke:
“On August 13 2013, Chawla requested more visas. I quote from the email to Christians: ‘Brother please help me, brother one more.’”
Both Rajesh and Atul Gupta had attained South African citizenship, but Ajay Gupta had abandoned the process.
The committee was expected to continue later in the afternoon into how exactly the Guptas were allowed to be declared citizens, with Gigaba also expected to be appearing at the commission this week.