'Guptagate': Madonsela in as AG steps back

The Gupta jet parked at the Waterkloof Air Force Base. Picture: Beeld.com
JOHANNESBURG -The Public Protector is likely to be called on to investigate the Gupta scandal after the Auditor-General (AG) declined a request to do so. 

Eyewitness News
broke the story on 30 April that a private jet chartered by the Gupta family carrying over 200 wedding guests, had landed at the Waterkloof Air Force Base without following normal procedures.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said it was pleased that AG Terence Nombembe’s office had accepted its request to investigate the matter.

But Nombembe’s office has now clarified it will be merely study the findings of various interdepartmental probes. 

The DA’s Dianne Kohler-Barnard said, “I had a very clearly worded letter from the AG saying this matter would be investigated. It is his job to look at the possibility of wasteful expenditure.”

As if she didn't have enough on her plate, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela might soon be asked to establish if there was any unauthorised, irregular or wasteful expenditure as a result of the use of state resources by the Gupta family.

The DA’s Dianne Kohler Barnard said she understood the AG as willing to investigate adding that she would not ask again. 

“I don’t appeal to public servants. What I will do as a final resort is go to the Public Protector.”

The AG's Africa Boso said the office would not be conducting a special investigation into the Gupta scandal.

He said this decision was reached after assessing the standard audit matters which the AG's office takes on.

Meanwhile, the Tshwane municipality is set to suspend the nine metro police officers who allegedly escorted the Gupta family wedding guests to Sun City. 

So far, officials from International Relations, the Police Ministry and the Air Force were suspended for their part in the debacle.

The nine Tshwane metro police officers have two days to explain why they should not be suspended. 

If they fail to do so they will be relieved of their duties. 

Police management served letters on those implicated in the so-called Guptagate saga on Tuesday. 

It is understood the men fitted false number plates and blue lights to their private vehicles.

Several departments including the Department of Defence and the Police Ministry have also launched internal probes to get to the bottom of the incident.

The Indian High Commission will host a press conference on Thursday to explain its part in the debacle.

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)