Johannesburg, Oct 4: The South African government Thursday dismissed media reports that President Jacob Zuma was involved in the unauthorised landing of a private plane belonging to an Indian family at a military base in the country.
“Government dismisses these allegations as false and unfounded,” said Phumla Williams, acting CEO of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Xinhua reported.
“The media reports do not reflect any new evidence; instead report on information that is already in the public domain,” Williams said.
She was referring to a scandal in which a private plane of the affluent Gupta family landed at a sensitive military airbase near Pretoria April 30.
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 the president to land its plane at the Waterkloof military airbase.
The privately-chartered Airbus A330 carrying over 200 wedding guests of the Gupta family landed at the base, which normally serves the president, deputy president and visiting heads of state. The incident sparked widespread criticism and was named “Gupta gate” by media.
“Government has investigated the violations of the security protocol and disregard of established practice for clearing the landing of an aircraft in a military facility,” Williams said.
An investigation into the incident had considered all aspects and had communicated that Zuma was not in any way linked to the unauthorised landing of the aircraft, said Williams.
“The investigation revealed that influential names were deceptively used in order to allow the plane to land at Waterkloof Air Force Base. This is not new information as portrayed by the media.”
“The findings of the investigation on the incident clearly revealed that members of the National Executive did not issue any instructions, and did not create the impression that they ought to have issued any instructions.”
Williams reiterated the government’s position that determinations made by the high-level investigating team were based on facts and not hearsay information.
“All South Africans are assured that security protocols are continuously strengthened to avoid a similar incident,” Williams said.