Johannesburg - Former minister of mineral resources Ngoako Ramathlodi has given explosive testimony at the Zondo commission detailing how he believes the Guptas’ landing of an aeroplane at the Waterkloof air force base could not have happened without former president Jacob Zuma’s approval.
The Gupta family landed a commercial aeroplane at the Waterkloof air force base in Pretoria in April 2013. The aeroplane was carrying their guests who were to attend a wedding of a Gupta family member in Sun City.
Ramathlodi said the controversial landing was the highest disrespect by the Gupta family and was “completely unacceptable”.
He said he suspected the authorisation was signed off by someone with high authority and he suspects Zuma may have given the go ahead.
"I had a feeling that it could not have happened without his (Zuma’s) knowledge. Apparently, an official got a call from number one and he gave the go ahead. My impression was that he authorised it,” said Ramathlodi.
“They mobilised even the municipalities to provide security for those buses. They were disrespectful of the president of the country. Not just any airforce base that one is of one those things that are sacred. That air force is not a place where you can just play like that,” he said.
The former minister said the landing was an example of the Gupta family showing off the power.
“What they were doing (Guptas) was to show off that they have captured the republic, they are not presidents but they could land at an air force base.
“Chair what happens at (an) air force base is only heads of state land there and when they land you receive them with the protocol. But on this occasion, this aeroplane from India just landed there. There were preparations because even traffic cops were escorting those buses which were going to the North West. So it was a well-planned reception which could not have happened without higher authority knowing,” Ramathlodi said.
He said he and a group of ministers told Zuma not to attend the wedding.
“We told the President don't go there (attend the wedding) and on this occasion, he listened. He did not attend the wedding. We told him, Mr President, you don't do such things. We told him that Mr President it is unacceptable a private jet carrying and wedding party from another country would land at our airforce base,” he said.
The inquiry continues.IOL