SANDF backtracks on Waterkloof denials - reports

2013-04-30 18:13
(Barry Bateman, via Twitter)

(Barry Bateman, via Twitter)

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Johannesburg - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on Tuesday reportedly backtracked on its earlier statements that it was unaware of permission being granted to the Gupta family to use Waterkloof Air Base.

A Jet Air jet, chartered by the Gupta family, carrying guests from India for Vega Gupta's wedding landed at the air base.

South African National Defence Union (SANDU) spokesperson Pikkie Greeff, who earlier described the situation as "unprecedented", tweeted that the SANDF changed its tune.

Said Greeff: Ah and suddenly SANDF backtracks on its denial. Now it gave permission (and knew) about Gupta transit. Took best of 8 hours to admit.

ENCA journalist Karyn Maughan also backed up Greeff's tweet.

Maughan tweeted: After a day of denials, SANDF admits that it granted permission for Gupta plane to land at Waterkloof.

She tweeted that the government said its treatment of Gupta's wedding guests was that accorded to "high level representatives" and was completely appropriate.

She said that the high level representatives appear to be Indian government ministers on board, and that she was told by the government "the request was evaluated in accordance with practices and protocols relating to courtesies accorded to visiting high level representatives of foreign states and their delegations".

"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," defence department spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini had said earlier.

But Gupta family spokesperson Gary Naidoo vehemently refuted this, saying that the SANDF definitely granted permission.

"In response to further media inquiries, the Gupta family reiterates that permission for aircraft, carrying foreign ministers and other dignitaries, was obtained from the SANDF beforehand.

"No aircraft is able to land anywhere in the world without obtaining prior permission," Sapa reported Naidoo as saying.

Attempts to get Naidoo to clarify when the permission was issued were unsuccessful.

Another Gupta family spokesperson, Haranath Ghosh, had said earlier that the Indian High Commission, and not the family, applied for and was granted the permission.

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.

Read more on:    sandf  |  gupta wedding  |  military  |  gupta jet

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