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Official in New Delhi removed from post for not approving Gupta workers visas?

Ronald Steyn has told Parliament's inquiry into the naturalisation of the Gupta family that there were never any problems with his work.

A video screengrab of Ajay Gupta. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - A Home Affairs official who was based at the High Commission in New Delhi has conceded that he might have been removed from his job there because he wasn't being compliant enough in approving visas for employees of Gupta companies.

Ronald Steyn was transferred to Germany after two years in India.

He’s told Parliament's inquiry into the naturalisation of the Gupta family that there were never any problems with his work.

This is contrary to testimony given to the inquiry by his superior last month.

Steyn says he’s never met any of the Gupta family or their intermediary Ashu Chawla.

But he says Chawla did on occasion email or call him to ask about applications for work visas for Sahara Computers and Infinity Media.

Steyn says in the two years he was based at the New Delhi office; the High Commissioner would inquire about the visa progress for Gupta employees.

“The High Commissioner would follow up on them [and] enquire from me how far are they being processed…”

Steyn says he was never given reasons for his transfer to Germany, and he never asked. He’s since returned to South Africa.

WATCH: Parly probe into Gupta naturalisation resumes

‘I NEVER INITIATED STEYN’S REMOVAL’

Home Affairs deputy director Major Kobese says he was instructed by his superiors to remove Steyn.

This is the second time Kobese is testifying before the inquiry.

Steyn says with hindsight, he may have been removed from the South African High Commission in India because he was not being compliant enough in processing visas for the Gupta family.

But at the time, he was looking to greener pastures, because the quality of life in New Delhi was not great.

Kobese, however, says he never initiated Steyn’s removal nor did he suggest Gideon Christians as his replacement.

“Honourable member, from where I was standing as a superior, there was no evidence to support a conflict of a relationship, but that doesn’t prevent Home Affairs from redeploying an official.”

Kobese says foreign missions often complain about Home Affairs staff and ask for them to be replaced.

But he says in the case of Steyn, he was not given an opportunity to investigate as would have been normal practice.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)