Air force doesn't know who owns charter planes - defence minister

2015-08-28 12:46
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. (GCIS)

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. (GCIS)

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Pretoria – The air force has no idea who owns the aircraft it charters to fly senior government members on official business, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Friday.

“EjecuJet exercises a right of non-disclosure of the third party ownership of the aircrafts they make available,” she told reporters at Air Force Base Waterkloof.

The fact that the plane was owned by the Gupta family was irrelevant.

“The matter of whether the aircraft belonged to a company owned by the Guptas is neither here nor there,” she said.

The family owns Sahara computers and reportedly has links with President Jacob Zuma.

ExecuJet was the second company the air force approached to fly Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and a government delegation to Japan for an official visit last Friday.

According to EWN, the plane is registered to Westdawn Investments, owned by the Guptas. President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane is a director at the company.

The plane was chartered as the air force’s own Boeing 737 was not available. It then turned to a Treasury-approved list of companies. The first company could not supply a plane with the required range, or safety and comfort levels suitable for Ramaphosa.

Mapisa-Nqakula said everything was done by the book. It was necessary to focus on the processes followed, not on the owners of particular planes. It would have been a different matter had the air force gone to the Gupta family and asked for a plane.

She said somebody had “mischievously suggested” that Ramaphosa should have refused to fly on the plane.

“The principals never know whose aircraft they are using.”

She said the cost of chartering the plane would only have been slightly more than what the air force would have paid to use its own aircraft.

She added that it was wrong to conflate the present matter with the so-called “Guptagate” scandal. In April 2013, a plane chartered by the Gupta family landed at Waterkloof. It was carrying guests attended the wedding of a Gupta family member at Sun City.  

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  nosiviwe mapisa-nqakula  |  jacob zuma
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