Blame for Gupta debacle falls on two top officials

2013-05-16 00:00

IT seems that only two top officials will take the blame for the Gupta debacle.

The multi-departmental investigation team said one name and the allegations of a bribe kept coming up during questioning of those involved.

The named official was reportedly waiting for the Gupta’s plane to land in Waterkloof to ensure that the wedding guests disembarked without hassles.

Beeld has also learned that it is unlikely that the three suspended senior air force officers will lose their jobs because of the debacle.

The investigation of 11 Tshwane Metro Police officers who “helped” the Guptas to transport and accompany VIP guests are being investigated separately.

The debacle started when an Airbus with some 200 guests of the Gupta family — who has close links to President Jacob Zuma — landed at Waterkloof airforce base on April 30.

A public outcry followed, with both ANC members and opposition parties criticising the fact that a private plane could land at a national key point and passengers disembark without any customs officers present.

Bruce Koloane, head of state protocol, was placed on compulsory leave.

Four senior airforce and police officers followed, as well as 11 metro police officers.

A multi-departmental team comprising directors-general in the security cluster of the government had seven working days, which expired on Tuesday, to investigate the debacle. The report of their finding has been handed to Jeff Radebe, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development.

The Gupta family has insisted they submitted all the required applications for authority to land at the airport, although the government has stated that no official permission was given to the family.

Beeld learned that the initial application was made in February, which only requested permission to land a passenger jet. Later, the application added requests for parking of the plane, which required the initial “authorisation” to be extended, as this would be to the airforce’s account. The extended authorisation was given.

Phumla Williams, executive head of the government’s communication service, will give a detailed report when all the ministers involved have been informed.

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Minister of Defence, is in Russia and will only be back tomorrow.

Apart from identifying the culprits, the investigators also had to identify weaknesses in the state’s processes to prevent a repeat of the Gupta debacle.

Each department had to analyse its processes to address possible weaknesses.

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