South African president not involved in Gupta jet scandal: Minister

Pretoria, May 19 (IANS) South African President Jacob Zuma was not involved in a wedding scandal in which a private plane of the affluent and well-connected Indian Gupta family landed at a sensitive military airbase, an investigation revealed on Sunday, reported Xinhua.

“In any event, the president is not involved in authorizing the landing or not landing of aircraft at airports,” Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe told reporters in Pretoria.

There had been speculation that the Gupta family which allegedly maintains good relations with Zuma and the ruling African National Congress might have got permission from Zuma to land its plane at the Waterkloof military airbase near Pretoria on April 30.

The Gupta family landed a chartered plane at the airbase, carrying about 200 family members and friends while on way to Sun City, the North West Province to attend a wedding of Vega Gupta, a niece of the powerful Gupta businessmen who own several companies including Sahara Computers and the pro-government New Age newspaper.

The saga raised a hue and cry in South Africa about security bleach and sovereignty transgression.

Radebe said preliminary investigation also found that neither Minister of Transport Ben Martins nor the minister of defence were involved in the scandal.

But Radebe noted that Zuma’s name and the names of the above ministers were used by certain officials in order to get permission to land the plane at the airbase.

He refused to name those officials but said those who made the transgressions must be brought to book.

The investigation, Radebe said, was still continuing to determine whether any officials were guilty or not.

“All affected departments must complete their investigations into this matter as soon as possible to ensure that justice is done, and the required disciplinary measures are fully implemented where deemed necessary,” he said.

Also addressing media, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoane-Mashabane, said the saga would not affect relations with India.

She said South Africa would share the findings of the probe with the Indian government in due course, she said.

A final report is expected to be submitted next week.

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