Plane drama sees millions extra spent to hire jets to get Zuma home

2015-05-13 10:48
President Jacob Zuma arrives at Vnukovo 3 International Airport in Russia. (GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma arrives at Vnukovo 3 International Airport in Russia. (GCIS)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pretoria - Millions of rands extra had to be spent to get President Jacob Zuma back to South Africa after an official visit to Moscow.

By late on Tuesday, it was still not clear when he would land at Waterkloof air force base.

The original itinerary had Zuma landing at Waterkloof just after 07:00.

The drama began this weekend when Zuma attended the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation.

Technical problem

Beeld understands that Inkwazi, his official jet, developed a minor technical problem with the long-distance fuel system. It was not critical and would have simply meant a second refuelling stop, after Ankara, Turkey, in Entebbe, Uganda.

However, this was not deemed acceptable, and a plane was hired. This aircraft, from Longtail Aviation registered in the Bahamas, left Dubai in the Gulf to pick the president up.

Because of safety restrictions on crew hours, the plane could only be on the ground for a short period in Moscow.

But for unknown reasons, Zuma was apparently not at the airport in this short window, and the crew had to leave to rest in a hotel, in accordance with international regulations.

The arrangements were then taken out of the hands of the air force and went forward with the help of the SA ambassador in Moscow.

Third aircraft

A third aircraft was then arranged to bring the president back to South Africa. It is not known to whom this aircraft belonged.

The hired Bahamas plane was sent back to Dubai, but the air force is still liable for the R2 million that the full flight to South Africa and back to Dubai would have cost.

Meanwhile, the air force jet left Moscow and as planned, stopped to refuel in Ankara and Entebbe. It was expected to land at Waterkloof before Zuma, despite the extra stop.

The air force, Defence Department and the Presidency on Tuesday repeatedly referred Beeld’s questions to each other for comment.

The Presidency had announced on Tuesday morning that Zuma would not be back in time to launch a Home Affairs service delivery programme. “The president will return to the country from Russia later than planned,” the statement said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.