Zuma not party to Gupta plane landing in Waterkloof, says former minister
FORMER Transport Minister Ben Martins has denied that he was instructed by former president Jacob Zuma to allow the controversial Gupta family to land an aircraft at Waterkloof Air Force Base.
Martins was transport minister when the Guptas landed their chartered plane packed with wedding guests at the national keypoint.
But Martins distanced himself from the highly controversial move, saying as transport minister he did not have authority over the Waterkloof Air Force Base, which is overseen by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
He said he met Tony Gupta, former chief of state protocol Ambassador Bruce Koloane and former Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) boss Bongani Maseko, to discuss the family having a welcoming ceremony on the OR Tambo International Airport 's tarmac.
Martins said he insisted that it was not possible to have a welcoming ceremony on the airport's tarmac.
According to Martins, Tony Gupta complained that he was denying the friends and guests of the president access to Africa's busiest airport.
Martins told the commission that he informed Tony Gupta that permission cannot be granted.
Shortly after the wedding in May 2013, The Sunday Independent reported that t he Gupta family demanded that part of OR Tambo International Airport be shut down and be exclusively designated for their wedding guests three months before the wedding, but Acsa refused.
Mapisa-Nqakula had also refused to grant their chartered jet the right to land at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, but senior officials such as Koloane invoked Zuma's name to get landing rights for the Guptas' guests.
Martins also testified that he visited the Guptas' Saxonwold compound twice including during an Indian Food Fair.
However, he turned down their invitation to the Sun City wedding after Zuma's Cabinet's security cluster told ministers not to attend the ceremony.