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Home Affairs Dept: Ashu Chawla's ID may have been digitally manipulated

In the ID photo, Chawla, a chief executive of Sahara Computers, appears to be wearing sunglasses.

A screengrab of MPs presiding over a parliamentary inquiry into the naturalisation of members of the Gupta family.

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Home Affairs says that it can’t say for sure whether a purported copy of an identity document of Gupta associate Ashu Chawla which has been circulating online, is authentic.

In the ID photo, Chawla, a chief executive of Sahara Computers, appears to be wearing sunglasses.

Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee which is conducting an inquiry into the naturalisation of the Gupta family has questioned how this was allowed.

Chawla facilitated dozens of visa applications for the Guptas and their employees.

He’s currently on bail in the Vrede dairy farm matter.

Acting Director-General Thulani Mavuso says that a purported copy of Chawla’s South African ID issued in 2003 may have been digitally manipulated to make it appear that he’s wearing sunglasses.

The department has no digital records of photos that appear in green ID books.

Mavuso says although people are permitted to wear spectacles in their ID photos, they are not allowed to wear sunglasses.

Minister Malusi Gigaba says he’s never met Chawla.

"On the issue of Mr Chawla's naturalisation in 2011, my response is obviously that I was not the Minister of Home Affairs in 2011 when Mr Chawla was naturalised."

Chawla is currently in India and says he will only appear before the inquiry if Parliament pays for a business class return ticket and supplies him with a Hindi interpreter.

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