The South Gauteng High Court denied the Guptas leave to appeal an interim court order compelling them to return a rented jet to its foreign owner. File picture

Johannesburg - The South Gauteng High Court denied members of the Gupta family leave to appeal an interim court order compelling them to return a rented luxury jet to its foreign owner.

Judge Fayeeza Kathree -Setiloane handed an interim order in March that the aircraft, a luxury Bombardier Global 6000 business jet should be returned and held at Lanseria airport.

The Guptas lodged an application on March 23 to challenge the ruling.

The Guptas had a lease agreement with Export Development Canada (EDC) and Stoneriver for the Bombadier Global 6000 aircraft but are currently engaged in a legal dispute in UK courts over the agreement.

On Thursday, Kathree-Setiloane said it would not be in the interest of justice to allow an appeal in the interim order granted, pending final determination of the case abroad.

"This court granted interim relief pending final determination of the English proceedings...Lastly, the order granted here does not dispose of the relief sought in the English proceedings. It merely preserves the safety."

During the previous court proceedings, Stoneriver stated in the application that between October and December 2017, there had been a number of breaches of the lease agreement, and the company had terminated the agreement with Westdawn on December 13.

Stoneriver then instructed Westdawn, a Gupta-owned company, to return the aircraft.

Westdawn refused. It challenged the notice to cancel the lease in the UK courts, leading Stoneriver and EDC to approach the South African courts to grant an interim order to have the plane grounded and stored until the matter was finalised in the English courts.

Court papers from March indicate public tracking for the aircraft was turned off on 4 February after an inquiry to Westdawn on the jet's whereabouts.  

This is said to have "created an extraordinary situation" depriving its owner and financier of information on its whereabouts.

Part of the reasons given by Kathree-Setiloane, was that the transponder of the aircraft had been turned off, resulting in the owners having no way to determine where the aircraft was.

African News Agency/ANA