North West government officials have debunked a claim by the Gupta family that it donated equipment to schools in the province and also ran a feeding scheme in some of the schools.
The Guptas allegedly mentioned this in a letter to the Department of Home Affairs as motivation for their application for early naturalisation‚ saying they were making “social contributions” to the value of R1-million. This was to show how committed they were to corporate social responsibility and social upliftment.
MPs were left fuming when home affairs portfolio committee chairman Hlomane Chauke told them that in the letter to the Home Affairs minister‚ Gupta-owned Oakbay claimed to be running a feeding scheme at local schools and that “some children in the North West ate KFC for the first time in their lives thanks to the company”.
Stephinah Semaswe‚ provincial head of Education and Sports Development‚ told the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on home affairs that it was not true that the Guptas made donations to the schools. She said some of the schools on the supposed list of 77 schools that benefited from the family did not even exist.
Semaswe told MPs that Gupta-linked companies invited schools in the Bojanala region of the North West to take part in a “design competition” for a wedding invitation – to draw invitation cards to the infamous Gupta wedding held at Sun City in 2013.
Winning pupils and schools received “tokens of appreciation” from the companies. These ranged from crayons and hula hoops to sports equipment like soccer balls‚ netball balls‚ bibs and soccer cones‚ as well as monetary prizes between R1‚000 and R15‚000.
Semaswe also dismissed a claim that the company had painted two schools‚ saying it was only two classrooms that had been painted.
“It was a drawing competition and it indicated prizes that were going to be won. They even invited school principals to a lunch for prize-giving. So from where we are seated as a department‚ it is a token of appreciation‚” she said.
“We are not aware of any social responsibility by the Guptas or Oakbay in our schools. We are only aware of a competition.”