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DA seeks ‘Guptagate’ probe

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waterkloof airbase

Independent Newspapers.

The military has impounded a civilian aircraft for violating airspace at the Waterkloof Air Force Base. File photo: Herbert Matimba.

Cape Town - The DA has called for a parliamentary probe into why a chartered jet carrying guests for Vega Gupta's wedding was allowed to land at Waterkloof air base.

Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier described as “extraordinary” a statement by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula that the Jet Airways Airbus A300-200's use of Waterkloof, outside Pretoria, was unauthorised.

“It confirms that virtually every rule in the book was broken in order to comply with the wishes of the Gupta family, who had previously requested the use of Air Force Base Waterkloof,” he said in a statement.

Maynier said he had received confirmation from SA Civil Aviation Authority acting director Poppy Khoza that the Gupta's use of Waterkloof to land their chartered jet was unauthorised.

“In fact, she did not even receive a request to authorise the use of AFB Waterkloof for 'civil aviation purposes', as is required by the Civil Aviation Authority Regulations,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, the international relations department said the Chief of State Protocol, ambassador Bruce Koloane, had been placed on suspension while the matter was being investigated.

Government announced there would be a full investigation by international relations, the SA Revenue Service and the defence department into how the Guptas were able to land at Waterkloof, a national key point.

Maynier said while it appeared “every rule in the book may have been broken”, it was hard to believe Koloane Ä together with senior military officers, and acting on a request from the Indian High Commission Ä had “pulled off the landing” of the Gupta's plane without political authorisation.

“The 'rogue officials' explanation is hard to believe and smacks of damage control.”

It needed to be determined how the Guptas were able to effectively hijack the state and secure landing rights and the use of Waterkloof, as well as protection from the SAPS VIP Unit, he said.

Maynier welcomed the announcement of a full investigation.

“However, we need a separate full-scale parliamentary investigation by an ad hoc committee of Parliament to investigate what has become known as 'Guptagate'.”

The DA would ask National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu to urgently appoint a multi-party ad hoc committee.

The Gupta family, which also owns The New Age newspaper, is celebrating the wedding of Vega Gupta, 23, to Indian-born Aakash Jahajgarhia at Sun City. - Sapa


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