It’s been more than four years but the apparently illegal touchdown at AFB Waterkloof of a chartered civilian aircraft carrying passengers bound for a Gupta family wedding at the glitzy Sun City resort is not going to disappear.
Kobus Marais, opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party shadow defence and military veterans minister, said in response to weekend reports he wants Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to “urgently brief Parliament’s defence committee on how the Gupta family gained access to military information”.
He pointed out that classified information including “dissemination maps and aviation charts of AFB Waterkloof were sent to the Gupta family over insecure email systems ahead of the wedding”.
“If the allegations are true, the Gupta family and their associates were potentially in contravention of the Defence Act, the SA Revenue Services Act and the Customs and Excise Act,” he said. This was because “they failed to request or receive any approval from the SA Civil Aviation Authority, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and the SA Revenue Service”.
Marais wants the Minister to explain the “outrageous access the Gupta’s had to South Africa’s military services” and will be asking for her presence in the National Assembly via an urgent letter to Stanley Motimele, chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence. Parliament is currently in recess and will resume work next month (August).
Since then the involvement of the Gupta family, alleged to be close to President Jacob Zuma, has extended to the South African defence industry as well as other sectors of local economic activity. Gupta-linked VR Laser is said to be a supplier of steel components to Denel Land Systems for the SA Army’s new infantry combat vehicle, the Badger, while VR Laser Asia is apparently partnering with state-owned defence and technology conglomerate Denel in a Far Eastern joint venture to exploit defence markets in this area of the globe. The joint venture is currently the subject of a North Gauteng High Court hearing with National Treasury opposing its formation.