/ 5 May 2013

Malema calls for treason charges against Guptas

'New Age' managing editor Atul Gupta.
'New Age' managing editor Atul Gupta.

"We call on the National Prosecuting Authority [NPA] to charge the Gupta family with high treason for initiating and pushing through efforts that led to the usage of our military airbase despite the disapproval by the minister of defence," Malema said in a statement on Sunday.

"If the NPA is not in the pockets of the Guptas like many are, it will proceed to lay charges of treason against the Gupta family for undermining and threatening national security."

"To suggest that [President Jacob] Zuma is not aware or was not complicit in the granting of the permission to his friends to use the airbase is just plain foolishness," said Malema.

He alleged the Guptas controlled the government and the ANC. "It is not a fallacy that the Gupta family has tremendous control over the ANC and government and have had influence and knowledge of key decisions even before the most senior of ANC leaders are aware," he claimed.

Malema said the close relationship between the Guptas, Zuma's family and several government officials compromised national security.

Allegations of sexual assault
Meanwhile, allegations of sexual assault, racism and flouting of government regulations have marred the Gupta's lavish wedding in Sun City, it was reported on Sunday.

According to the City Press, a male wedding guest allegedly assaulted a masseuse in his Cascades hotel room. "I heard from one of the masseurs that the lady had been harassed during the massage," Cascades spokesperson Lydia Mohlakane told the paper.

The newspaper spoke to another employee who said the traumatised woman claimed the man started touching her.

Atul Gupta said in a statement on Saturday said they were "hugely upset" by the matter. "The family was unaware of the alleged incident until they were briefed on Friday … We take matters of this nature very seriously," he said.

The Gupta wedding party allegedly discriminated against resort staff. "[A] Gupta security [officer] told waiters … they would bring the waiters towels, toothbrushes and toothpaste [to use before they served guests]," Koki Khojane, a resort employee, was quoted as saying. "This blatantly means that black people smell and the Gupta guests would not be served by smelly black people."

City Press reported that most of the bodyguards and butlers at the wedding were white and Afrikaans speaking. The Guptas denied the allegations. "The allegations of racism regarding the staff are definitely untrue … The issue of bodyguards and toothbrushes, etc, is rejected with the contempt it deserves," the Guptas said.

"The family would like to issue a general apology to all affected, including South African and Indian governments, the local authorities, the South African public and especially our guests.

"We also regret any incidents at the Sun City venue," the statement from the Gupta family read.

Havoc in the kitchen
Kitchen staff at the resort told the City Press that the chefs the Guptas brought in from India and Bangladesh caused havoc.

One chef, who did not want to be named, said the Gupta's chefs separated their side of the kitchen from that of the other chefs by placing a stove in the middle of a walkway. "I asked why we were separated as chefs. I didn't get a response," he was quoted as saying.

He said he saw one of the Gupta chefs washing his face in a kitchen sink, that some food was placed on the floor, while other staff coughed over it. "One of the chefs went to management to report all this, but management did nothing about it. Instead we were left with a huge mess."

The Guptas denied these allegations.

A chartered Gupta family jet made an unauthorised landing at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, a national key point, on Tuesday. It was carrying guests to the wedding of Vega Gupta (23) and Aakash Jahajgarhia. The jet was moved off the base on Thursday afternoon, amid widespread criticism. 

The City Press reported that a second Gupta jet landed there on Tuesday.

Several police officers allegedly formed a convoy of private vehicles illegally fitted with blue lights, sirens and illegal number plates, to escort the Gupta wedding party from Waterkloof to Sun City. Nine officers were arrested. More people could be arrested in the coming week. The officers allegedly carried their service weapons while performing private duties, in contravention of the Firearms Control Act.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe announced on Friday that five high-ranking officials and military staff were suspended over the unauthorised landing.

Government investigations are currently underway.

Several Indian politicians, five South African Cabinet members, President Jacob Zuma's wife Tobeka Madiba-Zuma, his son Duduzane, and his nephew Khulubuse, were among the wedding guests.

The politically-connected Guptas own the New Age newspaper and Sahara Computers, along with several other businesses. – Sapa