Guptas chose Waterkloof for security, convenience – high commissioner

2013-05-03 08:23

Virendra Gupta, the Indian high commissioner, said special permission to land a chartered jet at Air Force Base Waterkloof was obtained for security reasons.

“We did apply for permission for the landing ... because there were several VIPs, senior political figures from India who were going to come on the flight,” Gupta told the SABC.

“And because of factors relating to security, it’s very paramount.”

He said there was a concern about security when senior political figures travelled abroad.

“For the stand point of convenience we applied for permission of landing the aircraft at Waterkloof following standard procedures.”

The SABC showed footage of guests at the wedding. President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, and former minister Essop Pahad were among the guests.

Pahad told the SABC he was at the wedding to have a good time.

Atul Gupta told the SABC he did not think his connection with Zuma had anything to do with landing the jet at the air force base.

“No plane in the world can be landed anywhere without permission,” he said.

Some were trying to create controversy for unknown reasons, he said.

The Gupta family chartered jet was moved from Waterkloof yesterday afternoon after widespread outrage about the private use of a military facility.

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said the plane flew to nearby commercial OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

The wealthy and politically-connected Gupta family landed wedding guests at Waterkloof on Tuesday morning.

News of the aircraft landing angered political parties and organisations including the ANC, DA, IFP, Cosatu, and the SA Communist Party.

The Gupta family yesterday bemoaned what it described as “negative reporting” around the wedding.

“It was planned as a destination wedding to tempt other Indian families to use South Africa as a venue, instead of going to Mauritius or Thailand,” the family said in a statement.

The family said it had not been directly involved in the Waterkloof incident, but had been assured by the Indian High Commission that proper processes were followed and agreements reached with the appropriate officials.

The department of international relations and the SA Revenue Service (Sars) said they would investigate how the jet was allowed to land at Waterkloof while the police have launched an internal probe.

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