Guptagate: Third time for No 1

2013-10-06 18:31

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Johannesburg - Seven helicopters carrying Gupta family wedding guests were authorised to fly from Air Force Base Waterkloof because the "Indian delegation" was to meet "No 1" in Pilanesberg, North West.

This, City Press reported on Sunday, was among the revelations in a preliminary report by the board of inquiry investigating the controversial landing of the Guptas’ private jet at Waterkloof.

Discussion about the seven helicopters is in a declassified e-mail sent by Brigadier General Les Lombard, who is the officer commanding the air force command post, to the chief of the SA Air Force, Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang.

In the e-mail, dated 1 May 2013 - a day after the plane landed - Lombard wrote that he urgently needed “guidance” on whether “further flights by civilian helicopter from AFB Waterkloof to Pilanesberg, where the delegation is to meet No?1, was approved based on initial interactions” with former chief of state protocol officer Bruce Koloane.

It has also emerged that the board wants the defence department to lodge a formal complaint against Koloane for “misleading” air force officials to authorise the landing.

The board also found that:

» The red carpet treatment, only reserved for presidents and heads of state, was rolled out for Gupta guests at the insistence of Lieutenant General Christine Anderson, Waterkloof's movements control officer; and

» The CCTV camera system was not working on the day of the landing because it was being upgraded, a concern for safety and security.

Anderson was the first to face the board’s preliminary investigation panel last week.

Afrikaans daily Beeld broke the news that in her affidavit, Anderson for the first time directly implicated Zuma as knowing about the landing.

In another revelation, Major Elsie Makgopela, an officer with the 504 Protection Squadron, told the board that she raised security concerns with her commander, Lieutenant Colonel YC Govender.

She was worried, Makgopela testified, about journalists from India who arrived with the Gupta guests and were allowed to use cameras in the VIP area.

Govender's response was that "the Guptas are rich people and there is little we can do".

The board said in its recommendations that Govender should receive a "negative office" on his service record - a sanction - for "not showing any interest or leadership on what was going on [at] the base".

Read more on:    sandf  |  jacob zuma  |  gupta family  |  gupta wedding  |  gupta jet

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