The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has dismissed allegations that its contract with Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) Global benefited Duduzane Zuma and Rajesh Gupta, also denying there is a link between VSF Global and Islandsite Investments, the company whose directors include Gupta and Zuma.
On Friday, the Democratic Alliance’s Haniff Hoosen questioned in parliament why a Gupta-directed company was issuing receipts for people applying for visas through VFS Global. He claimed that Home Affairs had appointed VFS Global to handle South African visa operations but receipts were being issued by a company called Islandsite Investments. “Minister Gigaba manufactures new permits and the Guptas rake in the cash,” he said, also questioning what Minister Malusi Gigaba’s role had been in the appointment of VFS.
During a media briefing on Monday, the DHA Director General, Mkuseli Apleni, said the allegations were ‘wild and baseless’. He said Minister Gigaba was not with the department in 2010 when VFS was appointed. Furthermore, Apleni said that, in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, a Minister does not sign contracts but a Director General does. “We wish to discourage baseless accusations that impact negatively on the department’s integrity, especially given the critical role of the department.”
Apleni said the documentation at his disposal showed no link between VFS Global and Islandsite Investments. He said the department could also not dictate to companies that do business with government who they partner with abroad.
VFS Global Chief Operating Officer, Jiten Vyas, said VFS worked with a shelf company called Islandsite 309, which is not linked to the Gupta family. Only the Islandsite Investment 255 is linked to both Zuma and Gupta. The two companies, he said, shared similar names but are different. “VFS (Global) categorically denies any links (to the Guptas and Zumas) whatsoever,” he said, adding that VFS Global’s ownership and directorships were available to the public via their website.
However, Hoosen told Tourism Update he had been working on this case for over two years and received the information from senior Home Affairs officials. He said: “All Minister Gigaba had to do was stand up in parliament, call me a liar and name the owners of VFS, but he didn’t.”
Hoosen said he was submitting his request to the Public Protector, who has the necessary resources to launch a full investigation into the matter.