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01 May 2013 08:06
Owner of the New Age newspaper and Sahara computers Atul Gupta. (Gallo)
"We demand that those who are responsible for granting access to land aircraft in our country also explain the basis upon which such permission was granted, particularly to land at Waterkloof Airforce Base," said ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.
"Those who cannot account must be brought to book. The African National Congress will never rest where there is any indication that all and sundry may be permitted to undermine the Republic, its citizens and its borders."
"We again make the call, even at this late hour, to the SANDF to explain how this private aircraft landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base," said Mthembu.
Mthembu said the base was the country's national key point.
He said the ANC had "waited patiently" for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to explain to the nation how "these private individuals" managed to land aircraft at Waterkloof.
Earlier, a SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said the force was not aware of any permission granted for the Gupta family to use the Waterkloof Air Base in Pretoria.
"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."
But Gupta family spokesperson Gary Naidoo insisted in a brief statement on Tuesday afternoon that permission was obtained from the SANDF to use the base.
Granted permission for a private jet
"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," Naidoo said.
Attempts to get Naidoo to clarify when the permission was issued were unsuccessful.
The Gupta family, which owns the New Age newspaper and Sahara Computers, will celebrate the wedding of Vega Gupta (23) to India-born Aaskash Jahajgarhia at Sun City between May 1 and 4.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Gupta family said authorities had granted permission for a private jet, with family wedding guests on board, to land there.
"The Waterkloof [Air Force Base] was used, as Lanseria airport could not accommodate the size of the jet chartered by the family," Gupta wedding spokesperson Haranath Ghosh said in a statement.
The Indian High Commission, and not the family, applied for and was granted the permission, he said.
Attempts to confirm this with the High Commission in Pretoria were unsuccessful.
'Let the Guptas explain'
Deputy High Commissioner Armstrong Changsan said the High Commissioner was the only one allowed to comment, and he was not available until Monday.
Eyewitness News reported on Tuesday that private jets were landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base and that blue-light vehicles were escorting guests to Sun City.
Dlamini said the SANDF knew nothing about this.
"Let them [Guptas] tell you who they got the permission from and that they show it to you," he said.
"If the Gupta family say the commission got the permission, then the commission should be asked who they got it from, if they have such a permission."
Dlamini could not answer why private jets were allowed to land at the air force base if they had no permission to do so.
"What you are asking is just speculation.
Ghosh said all transport arrangements had been transparently made.
"Naturally, suitable protocol was used to receive and transport the foreign ministers to the wedding," he said.
The Democratic Alliance called for Auditor General Terence Nombembe to investigate the Gupta family's "abuse of public resources".
The Freedom Front Plus said Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula should "provide answers" regarding the use of the base. – Sapa
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