Who are the Guptas?

Linda Daniels

In April, the Gupta family's privately chartered jet landed at the Waterkloof Air Force Base with 200 wedding guests. This raised serious questions about how this was allowed to happen at a national key point. Eyewitness News broke the story and continues to follow developments surrounding the matter.

Here is a look at how the story unfolded and who the Guptas are.

April 2013

  • Reports emerge that the Gupta family will host the "wedding of the century".
  • Vega Gupta (23), who is the Gupta brothers’ niece, is expected to tie the knot with Indian-born fiancé, Aaskash Jahajgarhia at Sun City's Lost City hotel between 1 and 4 May.

30 April 2013

  • 8:26am Eyewitness News reveals that a Jet Air aircraft, chartered by the Gupta family, has landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base – a national key point - with wedding guests from India.

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  • 8:33am The first pictures emerge. EWN’s photos are widely used, including on enca TV and online, The Star and Cape Argus

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  • The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) repeats its stance that it was unaware of any permission granted.
  • 9:35PM The in-depth coverage leads to the ANC releasing a strongly worded statement.

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May 2013

1 May 2013

  • Cosatu says South Africans have been insulted by the Gupta family's alleged misuse of government resources.
  • Sars gets involved. EWN continues to lead the pack.

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  •  The SACP wades into the controversy calling on those responsible for allowing the Gupta family's chartered aircraft to land at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria to be held accountable

2 May 2013

  • 6:35am – Eyewitness News breaks the news that a senior government official has been suspended.

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  • Chief of State Protocol, Ambassador Bruce Koloane is suspended by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, following a preliminary report into what has been dubbed ‘Guptagate’.
  • It’s reported that President Jacob Zuma cancelled his plans to attend the Gupta wedding at Sun City.
  • Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula orderPolice Minister Nathi Mthethwa speaks during a government media briefing on 14 September 2012. Picture: GCIS.s that the Gupta family's chartered jet be removed from Waterkloof Air Force Base. She also calls for an investigation into why the air force was approached with a request to use the base.
  • National police commissioner Riah Phiyega launches an internal investigation into the Gupta wedding saga.
  • Cosatu alleges that guests attending the Gupta wedding insisted on being served by white staff at Sun City.
  • Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says preliminary reports show possible transgressions by police officials in the deployment of resources to the Gupta wedding, including the possible abuse of SA Police Service (SAPS) blue lights. The Minister adds that there are unconfirmed reports indicating that some of the vehicles used in transporting guests were not SAPS vehicles but private vehicles which were fitted with police blue lights.
  • The DA calls for a parliamentary probe into why a chartered jet carrying guests for Vega Gupta's wedding was allowed to land at Waterkloof air base.
  • Cosatu says it will visit Sun City to speak to workers who were allegedly discriminated against by guests of the Guptas,
  • The ANC Youth League describes Waterkloof jet incident as an "invasion of the country".

3 May 2013

  • It’s reported that Virendra Gupta, the Indian High Commissioner, said special permission to land a chartered jet at Waterkloof Air Force base was obtained for security reasons.
  • 10:54am ‘Guptagate’ dominates a post-cabinet media briefing, shifting the focus from other issues.Justice Minister Jeff Radebe at a news briefing on issues including the Gupta jet controversy. Picture: GCIS.
  • Justice Minister Jeff Radebe confirms that four more high ranking officials are put on "compulsory special leave" relating to the Gupta wedding jet saga. The four are from the SA National Defence Force and the SA Police Service (SAPS).
  • Atul Gupta releases a statement saying South Africans should be thankful for the investment that his family is bringing to the country. He says he doesn’t understand why there’s concern about the aircraft landing at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, when they had permission to do so.

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  • The Gupta family reject claims of racism after reports claimed that only white workers were hired to serve guests at a family wedding in Sun City.
  • Government announces that a preliminary probe has been done into the unauthorised landing of the Gupta charted aircraft. But a full investigation is under way by the directors general of the affected departments. The committee of DGs are given seven days to report back to the Cabinet ministers.
  • Justice Minister Jeff Radebe confirms the escort provided to the Gupta wedding guests was not provided by police.

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  • It’s revealed that a private security company - which illegally fitted blue lights to vehicles with false number plates - was involved.
  • Police and metro police officers in the security escort are arrested.
  • Five senior government officials and military personnel are suspended.
  • It’s reported that senior government officials will hold talks with the Indian High Commissioner about the Gupta debacle.
  • A government probe is conducted into a possible breach of diplomatic protocol. The investigation is carried out by a committee of directors general from various government departments. 
  • Government says the landing at the national key point was unauthorised.
  • Justice Minister Jeff Radebe says that Investigations into the illegal landing of a private jet at the Waterkloof Air Force Base could include looking into the role the Gupta family played in the saga.
  • A special team is deployed to OR Tambo International Airport to ensure procedures are followed as the Gupta's family guests depart for home.
    The Civil Aviation Authority confirms the operator of the Gupta family’s chartered jet has been fined R80, 000 because the aircraft did not have a foreign operator permit.
  • The wedding guests who arrived at the Waterkloof Air Force Base are processed through immigration.
  • President Jacob Zuma welcomes the investigations underway. He also emphasises that the investigation should not be allowed to impact negatively on the relations between South Africa and India.

4 May 2013

  • The South African National Defence Union (Sandu) reportedly takes issue with the fact that one of the suspended members allegedly involved in the Gutpa saga, Lieutenant Colonel Anderson, is merely a ‘Movements Officer’ at the military base. It says Anderson could have played a part in the unlawful permission of the landing of the Gupta aircraft.
  • Government confirms that there was no executive authority granted for the landing of an A330 Airbus aircraft belonging to Jet Airways at Waterkloof Air Force Base.
  • It’s reported that over 200 overseas guests who attended the Gupta wedding were delayed at the OR Tambo International Airport for almost six hours due to security checks, before they could depart.
  • Sandu calls for an independent commission of inquiry to be established to investigate the Gupta jet saga.
  • A spokesperson for the Gupta Family confirms that the family will co-operate with investigators in the jet saga.
  • The Guptas apologise for all the incidents reported surrounding the wedding.
  • Nine officers from the Tshwane metro police are arrested after they allegedly formed part of a security complement, which escorted Gupta family wedding guests to Sun City.

5 May 2013

  • Former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema says the Gupta family should be charged with treason for using Waterkloof Air Force Base

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  • It’s reported that President Jacob Zuma’s administration was warned two years ago by top state security officials that the Gupta brothers could pose a threat to national security.
  • It was reported that the Gupta aircraft scandal caused divisions in the ANC and in Cabinet and could lead to President Jacob Zuma's ousting.

The Gupta’s in the news spotlight

July 2010The New Age. Picture: Michelle Lubbe/Eyewitness News.

  • The first reports emerge of an ANC-linked group preparing to start up a newspaper
  • Former Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad launches the new national daily newspaper, The New Age, in Johannesburg.  In 2011, Pahad resigned as a director of Gupta-owned TNA Media - owners of the New Age newspaper. Pahad's own political magazine, The Thinker was for a period of time reportedly funded by the Guptas.

September 2010

  • The New Age newspaper makes its debut. Free copies of the broadsheet are distributed at the ANC's National General Council (NGC) in Durban.
  • Businessman Atul Gupta, the publisher of the new ANC-linked newspaper The New Age, is arrested for apparently refusing to be searched by police, after being stopped on the R55 highway in Pretoria.
  • The State declines to prosecute Gupta, who pursues "full" legal action against the two police officers who arrested him.
  • The Sowetan newspaper reports that Duduzane Zuma (who is a business partner of Gupta’s brother Rajesh) goes to the police station after Atul Gupta is arrested to help him.

February 2011

  • Government responds to media enquiries about whether certain ministers have been to the Gupta family's house, as a violation of privacy and devoid of ethics. It follows reports that the Gupta brothers - Atul, Ajay and Rajesh, also known as Tony - are said to wield so much power that they often summon cabinet ministers and senior government officials to their family compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg.
  • Brothers Ajay and Atul Gupta defend their friendship with President Jacob Zuma and claim the media coverage of their friendship is negative.
  • President Jacob Zuma rejects claims that the Guptas have influence over government affairs. It follows reports that there’s growing unease in the ANC and among its alliance partners about the influence of the Gupta family.

March 2011

  • The Guptas defend their business interests by handing over to trade federation Cosatu, a file from the Gupta family, with details of all their companies.

September 2011

  • Atul Gupta expresses shock at news that he and his family have been placed under high level surveillance.

March 2012

  • The two policemen who stopped and tried to search Atul Gupta's vehicle in 2010 are discharged for breaching police discipline rules.

January 2013Western Cape Premier Helen Zille addresses a Heritage Day gathering in Gugulethu on 24 September 2012. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

  • DA leader Helen Zille responds to reports that she solicited funds for the party from the Gupta’s, in the run up to the 2009 elections.  In an official statement on the matter Zille says, “Most journalists didn’t get it. They kept asking me whether we had received money from the Gupta’s. I kept replying: Ask them. If they wish to answer the question, they are free to do so. Indeed, I would welcome them clearing this matter up. But I cannot do so because the DA makes a commitment of confidentiality to our donors…” Zille later says the donor is not a Gupta, but an executive in a company owned by the Guptas. The donation, in the form of a cheque, was handed over to Zille in the Gupta home in Saxonworld, Johannesburg.
  • The New age denies pressuring the DA, after party leader Helen Zille claims that the TNA chief executive Nazeem Howa, TNA editor Moegsien Williams and managing editor Atul Gupta tried to put pressure on DA MP and federal chairman Wilmot James to "back off" from asking parliamentary questions on public funding of the publication.
  • The DA asks for a commission of inquiry to investigate the funding of the New Age newspaper.
  • Da leader Helen Zille writes to President Jacob Zuma to ask that he appoint a judicial commission of inquiry, headed by a retired judge, to investigate the funding of the newspaper.
  • The Guptas insist that donations made to the DA from 2009 came from a Gupta group company and not an individual donor associated with the family.
  • Nazeem Howa denies Zille's explanation that two cheques, one for R200 000 and another for R100 000 came from Stefan Nel, a Sahara Computers executive director. The Guptas own Sahara and Atul Gupta is the company's managing director.

April 2013

  • The Gupta family reportedly launches legal proceedings for defamation against the Sunday Times, after the newspaper publishes a story headlined "Guptas try to buy SAA boss".
  • It’s reported that the summons was issued through the North Gauteng High Court by Atul Gupta.