Is Gupta family to be blamed for Waterkloof landing?

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Sunday delivered a summary of the findings of an investigation by several ministers into the unauthorised landing of a privately chartered plane by the Gupta family, carrying 270 wedding guests, at the Waterkloof Air Force base on April 29. Guests were attending the wedding of Vega Gupta and Aakash Jahajgarhia at Sun City.

Radebe stated that the investigating team has conclusively found that in February 2013 the Gupta family approached the Airports Company SA and requested landing rights and an elaborate reception for the wedding party. The request was turned down.
In March, the minister of defence and military veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa – Nqakula and her adviser were approached by the Gupta family on different occasions. “On 3 April 2013 this request was also turned down”.

The South African National Defence Force at the time denied knowledge of the landing and subsequently suspended three of its members. But documents revealed the plane was cleared by the South African National Defence Force and that clearance for the flight to land was given on the basis that the plane carried “central government ministers” from India. The “central government ministers” turned out to be Vega Gupta’s wedding guests. The bride is the niece of one of the Gupta brothers, a family connected to President Jacob Zuma and his family. The families are also in business together.

“From the start, the investigation into the landing…was a carefully crafted damage control exercise designed to protect…Zuma and members of his Cabinet from the political fallout,” said DA MP David Maynier.

According opposition parties “the Gupta family should be prosecuted, adding that an investigation into the president’s involvement is needed.

Radebe denied any wrong-doing by the executive and dismissed suggestions of a cover-up. He and his colleagues brushed aside claims of a whitewash and refused to answer direct questions, referring journalists to the yet-to-be released report.

He further stated that the police and NPA would be responsible for deciding whether the Gupta family would be prosecuted for the unauthorised landing of their plane at the Waterkloof Air Base.

Written By: Stefane Visagie

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