Gupta report finds officials colluded

2013-05-22 19:09
(Picture: Beeld)

(Picture: Beeld)

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Johannesburg - A collusion of officials resulted in the irregular clearance for a privately chartered plane to land at Waterkloof Air Force Base, reveals a report on the matter.

"It is an undisputed fact that there was no note verbale from the Indian High Commission to the department of international relations and co-operation, and therefore due process was not followed," says the report, released on Wednesday.

"An individual in the Indian High Commission communicated directly with individuals at the Air Force Command Post."

The full report on the landing of the plane at the Waterkloof Air Force Base was released on Wednesday by the justice, crime prevention, and security (JCPS) cluster of ministries.

On 29 April, a plane chartered by the Gupta family, carrying 270 wedding guests, landed at Waterkloof.

Guests were attending the wedding of Vega Gupta, 23, and Indian-born Aakash Jahajgarhia at Sun City.

The landing sparked widespread criticism.

Government then initiated a probe into the matter and a possible breach of diplomatic protocol.

According to the report, the Gupta family approached the Airports Company of SA in February and asked for landing rights and an elaborate reception for the wedding party.

This was turned down as it would have disrupted the function of OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, Johannesburg.

In March, the family approached Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her adviser. In April this request was also turned down.

"The Gupta family then resorted to the use of the diplomatic channel with the support of an individual in the Indian High Commission, who re-designated the wedding entourage as an official delegation, to enable them to use the Air Force Base Waterkloof under the cover of diplomatic privilege," the JCPS cluster said in its findings.

The correct clearance procedures for landing were followed, but it was based on "false pretences, as a result of the manipulation of the process" by the Gupta family, individuals in the Indian High Commission, Chief of State Protocol Bruce Koloane, and Waterkloof's officer commanding movement control, Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson.

The JCPS found that the actions taken by Koloane and Anderson were a serious dereliction of duty.

"Their activities also indicate the bringing to bear of undue influence on state officials, systems, equipment and infrastructure," the JCPS said.

"This influence happened despite the denial of the exercise of undue influence by the legal representative of the Gupta family."

Anderson was found to have inverted command and control and unduly influenced the processing of the clearance.

She abused her rank when she called Sergeant-Major Ntshisi at the Air Force Command Post on April 9, telling him to issue the clearance.

The report found that all requirements in terms of health clearances, baggage scanning and a firearms check were complied with.

However, the use of private security vehicles to ferry passengers from the plane to the lounges was a security breach.

Within their rights

According to the report, the police, in terms of the Safety at Sports, Recreation and Entertainment Act, who initially refused to police the wedding as a private matter, were within their rights to get involved.

But there was a lack of involvement of other departments which deprived them of information needed.

The SA Police Service in the North West developed a plan for the protection of the event but failed to report to the national commissioner, who would have activated the national joint operations and intelligence structure if deemed necessary.

Providing convoy protection was authorised, but it involved officers who were moonlighting, contrary to regulations.

Metro police who carried firearms to protect the event were only allowed to do so in their respective jurisdictions, therefore their use in this instance was a violation of regulations. Some of them also drove vehicles that were fitted illegally with blue lights.

The JCPS cluster found that helicopters used in the operation were organised and funded by the Gupta family; they were not SAPS or SA National Defence Force helicopters.

All the black BMWs used in the convoys were hired from a private company.

SA National Roads Agency Limited and SAPS reports showed that there were gross violations of the Road Traffic Act.

"These and other criminal activities uncovered in this investigation are a manifestation of a deep-seated organised crime culture waiting to be unleashed on the country," the JCPS cluster said.

The investigation team recommended that all affected departments and entities complete their investigations into the matter as soon as possible and that disciplinary measures were implemented.

"Criminal cases involving public officials or private persons must, as a matter of priority, be pursued to their logical conclusion," it said.

Read more on:    police  |  sanral  |  nosiviwe mapisa-nqakula  |  bruce koloane  |  vega gupta  |  gupta jet

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