No special airport treatment for Guptas

2013-05-05 16:20
(Picture: Beeld)

(Picture: Beeld)

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Johannesburg - The Gupta family asked for, but were denied, special treatment at OR Tambo International Airport, it was reported on Sunday.

They wanted a welcoming team, traditional dancers and exclusive use of the Johannesburg airport for their wedding guests, the Sunday Independent reported.

The Guptas had asked Transport Minister Ben Martins to authorise that part of the airport's international arrivals area be shut down for their guests. They wanted guests' luggage to bypass baggage handling, a special immigrations queue, and for the customs process to be fast-tracked.

Transport department spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso confirmed the request had been made. Martins referred the Guptas to the Airports Company SA (Acsa).

"The minister and Acsa agreed that the Gupta family would not be given any preferential or special treatment should they wish to use the airport for whatever purpose," Rikhotso was quoted as saying.

The Guptas were told to consider using Pilanesberg International Airport in the North West, the paper reported. The family rejected this. The airport is 10 minutes from Sun City - where the wedding of Vega Gupta and Aakash Jahajgarhia took place during the week.

Allegations

The lavish wedding was marred by allegations of sexual assault, racism and flouting of government regulations.

According to City Press, a male wedding guest allegedly assaulted a masseuse in his Cascades hotel room.

"I heard from one of the masseurs that the lady had been harassed during the massage," Cascades spokesperson Lydia Mohlakane told the paper.

Atul Gupta said in a statement on Saturday said they were "hugely upset" by the matter.

"The family was unaware of the alleged incident until they were briefed on Friday... We take matters of this nature very seriously," he said.

The Gupta wedding party allegedly discriminated against resort staff.

"[A] Gupta security [officer] told waiters... they would bring the waiters towels, toothbrushes and toothpaste [to use before they served guests]," Koki Khojane, a resort employee, was quoted as saying.

"This blatantly means that black people smell and the Gupta guests would not be served by smelly black people."

Chefs

City Press reported that most of the bodyguards and butlers at the wedding were white and Afrikaans speaking.

The Guptas denied the allegations.

"The allegations of racism regarding the staff are definitely untrue... The issue of bodyguards and toothbrushes... is rejected with the contempt it deserves," the Guptas said.

"The family would like to issue a general apology to all affected, including South African and Indian governments, the local authorities, the South African public and especially our guests.

"We also regret any incidents at the Sun City venue," the statement from the Gupta family read.

Kitchen staff at the resort told the City Press that the chefs the Guptas brought in from India and Bangladesh caused havoc.

One chef, who did not want to be named, said the Gupta's chefs separated their side of the kitchen from that of the other chefs by placing a stove in the middle of a walkway.

He said he saw one of the Gupta chefs washing his face in a kitchen sink, that some food was placed on the floor, while other staff coughed over it.

Waterkloof

A chartered Gupta family jet carrying 270 wedding guests made an unauthorised landing at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, a national key point, on Tuesday. The jet was moved off the base on Thursday afternoon, amid widespread criticism.

The City Press reported that a second Gupta jet landed there on Tuesday.

Several police officers allegedly formed a convoy of private vehicles illegally fitted with blue lights, sirens and illegal number plates, to escort the Gupta wedding party from Waterkloof to Sun City.

Nine officers were arrested and more arrests could follow, reported the City Press.

The officers allegedly carried their service weapons while performing private duties, in contravention of the Firearms Control Act.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe announced on Friday that five high-ranking officials and military staff were suspended over the unauthorised landing. Government investigations were underway.

The politically-connected Guptas own The New Age newspaper and Sahara Computers, along with several other businesses.

- SAPA
Read more on:    acsa  |  ben martins  |  vega gupta  |  aakash jahajgarhia  |  johannesburg  |  mahikeng  |  gupta wedding
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