ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe says that the ANC will meet with Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to discuss the inappropriate use of the Waterkloof Airforce Base.
According to IOL, the Gupta family claims it was given permission to land a private jet at the military base ahead of the wedding of Vega Gupta (23) to Indian-born Aaskash Jahajgarhia at Sun City.
Gupta family spokesperson Gary Naidoo is quoted as saying: “The Gupta family reiterates that permission for aircraft, carrying foreign ministers and other dignitaries, was obtained from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) beforehand.”
The ruling party believes that those responsible for granting access to the airbase should provide an explanation for why they did so. Mantashe, quoted by the SABC, said: “It is unprecedented. Could you imagine if that airplane was headed for the Pentagon? What would have happened if it was in the United States? And I can tell you that private jet would not land in an air force base in India.”
Others, including South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande, have also questioned the unprecedented access that the politically-linked family was given to the airbase. At a Workers’ Day rally in Kimberley, Nzimande cautioned that the “sovereignty and dignity” of the country was at stake and that it needed to be protected, according to IOL.
In an indication of how seriously the matter is being taken, the International Relations Department confirmed on Thursday that Bruce Koloane, the chief of state protocol, had been suspended pending an investigation into the controversial landing.
The department’s spokesperson Clayson Monyela was quoted by EWN: “The officials involved somehow managed to secure flight clearances, but it was done without the knowledge or instruction of the executive.”