Denel board member and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s adviser, Thamsanqa Msomi, has emerged as the fixer for Gupta family associates in the Department of Home Affairs‚ documents show.
A leaked e-mail trail revealed how the Guptas’ “man on the inside”‚ Msomi‚ received e-mails from Gupta family associates asking for assistance for visas for “clients”‚ confirming longstanding speculation over his alleged links to the family.
Msomi was Gigaba’s chief of staff while he was public enterprises minister‚ later becoming his legal adviser while Gigaba was home affairs minister, and was then appointed to the board of Denel in 2015.
Msomi does not deny the picture painted in the e-mails, but says his actions were not out of the ordinary.
Times Media further established in interviews yesterday that when Msomi was at Home Affairs he instructed junior officials in the department to assist Gupta-owned Sahara chief executive Ashu Chawla to do the Guptas’ bidding.
The leaked e-mail trail showed how a director in the department was made to liaise with embassy officials on Chawla’s behalf as well as keep him informed of private happenings in the department.
Chawla received assistance on anything from getting visas fast-tracked irregularly‚ to having the minister allegedly replace an official standing in their way in a consulate office in Mumbai.
A junior official whose identity is known to Times Media revealed that the assistance he provided Gupta associates was on instructions that “came from the top”.
When pressed‚ he alleged he helped the Gupta family and associates at the behest of Msomi.
The e-mails paint a picture of how the rules of the department were repeatedly flouted for the Gupta family and their business interests, and when an official in the Mumbai consulate tried to implement the rules‚ there was an attempt to have him replaced.
This move caused controversy in the department’s human resources office, but was said to have been “approved by the minister”.
Gigaba’s spokesman, Mayihlome Tshwete‚ yesterday denied that the minister had anything to do with it, but did not respond in detail at the time of publication as promised.
Msomi, meanwhile, said his contact with Chawla was not out of the ordinary and he only dealt with matters of an urgent nature.
“I don’t know what is meant by regular‚” Msomi said in response to questions asking how often he had been in contact with Chawla.
“But yes, if he [Chawla] had issues that were Home Affairs-related, he would call at times or e-mail. In respect of others, he would communicate with the department directly.”
Msomi said he received requests for assistance from other people all the time‚ even now that he had left Home Affairs. – TMG Digital/ TimesLIVE