Soldiers charged over Gupta landing

2013-09-13 14:45

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Pretoria - Four members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) were charged before a military court on Friday, on charges relating to the landing of a private aircraft at the Waterkloof Air Force Base.

SA National Defence Union (Sandu) national secretary Pikkie Greeff, counsel for two of the soldiers, said the exact content of the charges was not yet clear.

"It seems that the military’s view of the matter is that these officers are guilty of some military offence for their role in the Gupta landing, but it's not clear what that role is alleged to have been.

"They are being charged with charges ranging from disobeying written instructions to conduct prejudicial to military discipline. It will only be clear from the final charge sheet what exactly the charges are," said Greeff.

The four - Colonel Nomsa Khumalo, Lieutenant Colonel Christo Van Zyl, Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson, and Warrant Officer Thabo Ntshisi - appeared in the court, which is located inside the vast Thaba Tshwane military base in Pretoria.

A fifth officer, identified as Colonel Nkosi, was scheduled to appear later on Friday.

The matter was postponed until 2 October for preliminary investigations.

In court, the soldiers were informed that they were charged with contravening different sections of the military defence code (MDC).

"In terms of the MDC and the Defence Act there are certain offences that a soldier can commit which are formulated in the MDC," Greeff said.

"Charges that were mentioned in this court includes sections [of the MDC] on disobeying written orders or instructions, conduct prejudicial to military discipline, and the abuse or misuse of state vehicles, aircraft or facilities."

Gupta wedding

Sandu was representing Van Zyl and Anderson, while the others had private attorneys and SANDF counsel, he said.

A chartered commercial aircraft, Jet Airways flight JAI 9900 from India, ferrying more than 200 guests for the wedding of Vega Gupta and Indian-born Aakash Jahajgarhia, landed at the base in April.

The passengers were then transported, either by light aircraft, helicopter or in police-escorted vehicles, to attend the lavish ceremony at Sun City's Palace of the Lost City in North West.

The landing sparked widespread criticism and several investigations were launched.

A government investigation exonerated President Jacob Zuma and his ministers, and found that the landing was the result of "collusion by officials".

In June, eight of the 11 Tshwane metro police officers accused of providing unofficial security for the Gupta wedding guests pleaded guilty at an internal disciplinary hearing by the city.

The municipality’s probe into the scandal examined the extent of the damage caused by the officers' involvement in the fiasco, Tshwane metro police executive director Console Tleane said at the time.

Read more on:    sandu  |  sandf  |  pikkie greeff  |  vega gupta  |  jacob zuma  |  gupta jet  |  gupta wedding

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