Waterkloof probe damage control - DA

2013-05-19 22:19

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - It comes as no surprise that President Jacob Zuma and his Cabinet were exonerated from the landing saga of a civilian plane at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, the DA said on Sunday.

"From the start, the investigation into the landing...was a carefully crafted damage control exercise designed to protect...Zuma and members of his Cabinet from the political fallout," said Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier.

"The scope of the investigation must include the role played by President Zuma and members of his Cabinet."

He said an independent investigation into the controversial plane landing was needed by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

A plane chartered by the Gupta family, carrying 270 wedding guests, landed at the base last month. Guests were attending the wedding of Vega Gupta, 23, and Indian-born Aakash Jahajgarhia at Sun City.

The landing sparked widespread criticism.

Several government ministers initiated an investigation into a possible breach of diplomatic protocol.

On Sunday, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said Zuma and his Cabinet had no involvement in the landing.

Radebe said one of the findings of the investigation was that the landing was a direct result of manipulation of processes.

He said names had been "dropped" during the course of the probe including that of Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Transport Minister Ben Martins and Zuma.

False information

He said the aircraft was cleared for landing and the correct clearance procedures were followed. But this was based on false information and abuse of privileges by a group who acted in common purpose.

This group included the Chief of State Protocol, ambassador Bruce Koloane, who acted in contravention of existing diplomatic protocols, he said.

The investigation found that the wealthy Gupta family had resorted to using diplomatic channels when it failed to get landing rights from ministers and the Airports Company SA.

In March, Mapisa-Nqakula and her adviser were approached by the Gupta family on different occasions, said Radebe. On 3 April 2013, the request was turned down.

Maynier said the fact that some ministers "sat on their hands" and did not issue any instruction was part of the problem and should have been investigated.

"The minister of defence.... received and turned down a request for landing rights....Had the minister officially notified the chief of the SA National Defence Force... the Guptas' chartered jet...would never have been allowed to land..," he said.

"This is why we need an independent investigation to be conducted by the Public Protector into Guptagate."

Take action

Freedom Front Plus spokesperson Pieter Groenewald demanded that decisive action be taken. He said Radebe's statement that false information and abuse of privileges led to the landing amounted to fraud.

"The guilty should be named and prosecuted. The fact that false information led to the correct landing procedures being followed creates a serious void in the process which has to be followed to allow airplanes to land," he said in a statement.

"It does not matter whether Waterkloof is a national key point or not; the fact is that Waterkloof is a military air force base and is therefore a security area and a serious security breach took place."

Radebe said earlier the base was not a national key point.

"The Air Force Base Waterkloof is a strategic military base....[it] is not a national key point and is not governed by the National Key Points Act...," he said.

"The Air Force Base Waterkloof handles both civilian and military aircraft."

However, on 30 April, the SANDF was quoted as saying the base was a national key point.

"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," SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini was quoted as saying at the time.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.