Guptagate: Defence force is playing ‘cat and mouse’ with army members

2014-09-08 10:00

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The South African National Defence Union says it will approach a high court for relief for its members over the Gupta plane saga.

“What we will say in our notice [to be served on the defence force today] is they have 30 days to provide us with a court date when the trial will commence, or otherwise [they must] withdraw the charges,” the union’s secretary, Pikkie Greeff, was quoted as saying by The Star.

He told the newspaper two of its members – Lieutenant-Colonel Christine Anderson and Lieutenant-Colonel Stephanus van Zyl – who are accused of being involved in the controversy still do not know when, or even if, they will stand trial. They are on paid suspension from the South African National Defence Force.

“What our lawyers explained to me is that the defence force has been playing cat and mouse about some extra statements they want to obtain,” said Greeff.

“This would either relate to withdrawing charges or adding extra charges.”

Department of defence spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini declined to comment on the case.

In October, Anderson and Van Zyl were handed a preliminary charge sheet indicating that they disobeyed a written order.

A chartered commercial aircraft from India, ferrying more than 200 guests for the wedding of Vega Gupta, whose family has business interests in South Africa, and Aakash Jahajgarhia, landed at the Waterkloof Air Force base in April last year.

The passengers were then transported – either by light aircraft, helicopter or in vehicles that were escorted by police – to the ceremony at Sun City in the North West.

The landing sparked widespread criticism and several investigations were launched. A government investigation exonerated President Jacob Zuma and his ministers and found the landing was the result of “collusion by officials”.

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