Why was the red carpet used?

2013-10-03 00:00

THE red carpet, which may in terms of government protocol only be used to honour presidents and deputy presidents, was rolled out for the wedding guests of the Guptas when they arrived at the Water-kloof aibase.

But it is still a mystery who ordered the carpet to be used.

Colonel Helgard Brink, who was acting commander at the airbase during the Guptas’ landing, said in his evidence that the Department of International Relations and Co-operation normally decided on what level of ceremonial respect visiting dignitaries would be shown.

This includes rolling out the red carpet.

Lieutenant-Colonel Daisy Mdluli, commander of the movement control centre, said no one informed her about the size of the Gupta group.

When she saw the red carpet, she thought President Jacob Zuma was flying in, as he was the only person who normally got the red-carpet treatment at the air force base.

Warrant officer Riaan von Bentheim, who controlled traffic in and out of the base the morning that the Guptas landed, testified that the red carpet only got used for state visits.

“In my 36 years of experience it was strange and abnormal. I always do as ordered without questioning, however, unrolling of the carpet would constitute an illegal order,” he testified.

Colonel Maritz Visser, the logistical co-ordinator, had to welcome the visitors.

Lieutenant-Colonel Christine Anderson, the movement control centre officer, had told him the evening before the Guptas landed that the arrival hall had to be decorated for the group.

She also asked Visser to inform the Chief of the Air Force, Lieutenant-General Zakes Msimang, despite Visser not knowing anything about the visiting group.

A Mr Achuc of the Indian High Commission controlled events at Waterkloof.

Visser had to ask Achuc to point out the VIPs or ministers for protocol purposes, but the protocol for an official visit was not observed.

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