Private use of Waterkloof 'unprecedented'

2013-04-30 17:14
(Pic: Beeld)

(Pic: Beeld)

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Cape Town - The SANDF union says it is "unprecedented" that the Waterkloof Air Force base in Pretoria be used for private planes, after aircraft carrying guests from India for Vega Gupta's wedding, landed there on Tuesday.

One of the planes, an Airbus 330-200, reportedly carried 189 guests expected to celebrate the wedding.

Speaking to Beeld, Pikkie Greeff, spokesperson for the South African National Defence Union (Sandu),  said that the defence department must explain the circumstances surrounding the private use of the air base.

Beeld reported defence department spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini as telling eNCA that Waterkloof is a national keypoint and is specifically for military use.

"As far as I know, no permission has been granted to a private citizen to use the base. It is a military base and a national key point used by government and its guests," Dlamini said.

He also said  that he was aware that a private aircraft landed at the base, but still had to get more information, according to Beeld.

A Gupta family spokesperson, however, made it clear that authorities had given permission for the use of the air base.

"The Waterkloof [Air Base] was used as Lanseria Airport could not accommodate the size of the jet chartered by the family," Sapa reported Haranath Ghosh as saying.

"The permissions were applied for and granted to the Indian High Commission and not the family," he said.

According to Sapa, attempts to confirm this with the Indian High Commission in Pretoria were unsuccessful.

Deputy High Commissioner Armstrong Changsan said the high commissioner was the only one allowed to comment, and he was not available until Monday.

The DA said the family's use of the air base constitutes an abuse of state resources and should be investigated.

"Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and other government departments responsible for allowing the Guptas free reign of public resources must be held accountable," Democratic Alliance spokesperson Dianne Kohler Barnard said in a statement.

"I am writing today [Tuesday] to Auditor General Terrence Nombembe requesting that he investigate the abuse of public resources for the benefit of the Guptas," she said.
Read more on:    sandf  |  gupta wedding  |  military  |  gupta jet

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