Gupta probe: air base ‘swept for bugs’

2013-10-03 00:00

IN the aftermath of the Gupta landing, the airbase was electronically swept to check that the hundreds of guests that arrived unannounced had not planted any spy equipment.

It is not known whether any devices were found.

That security staff had no briefing about the people and the vehicles that arrived at the military air base is clear from the evidence that was presented to the Defence Force’s investigation board into the Gupta landing.

SA National Defence Force joint operations chief Lieutenant-General Derrick Mngwebi chairs the council.

Lieutenant-Colonel Y.C. Govender, the security commander at the base, said in his evidence it was “strange” and “unheard of” that there were no co-ordinating meetings to finalise security arrangements for the Gupta landing.

On top of this, the CCTV was being serviced and was out of order.

Govender is normally informed of any visiting aircraft to make the necessary security arrangements. These arrangements also prevent unauthorised people walking about at the airbase.

Lieutenant-Colonel Christine Anderson, the movement control centre officer, told him verbally in passing of the visit.

“On 30 April I had no answers for everything that happened there — not the rolling out of the red carpet; the uncontrolled use of cameras by the people on the plane as well as air force staff being prevented from entering the base by civilians.

“The group was too big and my staff could not handle it,” he testified.

He said no one knew what equipment the passengers had with them, adding they could have taken photos of strategic importance.

“The fanfare was staged outside the main entrance — something like that had not happened before.”

He said the security squadron that normally secures VIP flights were absent on that day, as well as the military police. After the landing, there was no debriefing on the security breaches.

Asked if he knew the base was a national key point, Govender said he did not. “But it is a military base and a national point of entry and it must be treated as such.”

Major Elsie Makgopela, the security detail’s operational officer, said in her statement that she knew about the flight, but not the scale of events.

Asked who was in control of the event, she said everyone except the staff at the base. “They were totally not in control!”

She asked her commanding officer, Govender, how the security breaches could be allowed and he allegedly answered: “the Guptas are rich people and there is little we can do”.

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