Gupta family gets royal escort

Guests due to attend a Gupta wedding have used an air force base to arrive in SA.

Guests arrive at the Waterkloof Air Force Base for the Gupta wedding. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Defence on Tuesday says it did not grant permission to any private citizen to use the Waterkloof Air Force Base.

The department's Siphiwe Dlamini told Eyewitness News : "It is a national key point and its usage is for state visitors exclusively. I can confirm that permission for usage for a private citizen has not been granted."

In a statement released this morning the Gupta family said the base was used with the full permission of the relevant authorities.

The statement claimed the "permissions were applied for and granted to the Indian High Commission and not the family".

Earlier, Eyewitness News learnt the Gupta family used the air base outside Pretoria to fly in relatives and dignitaries from India.

Dozens of Gupta family members arrived earlier to attend a wedding at Sun City this week. Vega Gupta (23) is the daughter of Achla, the Gupta brothers' only sister.

The Guptas are close allies of President Jacob Zuma.

Police Flying Squad and VIP protection unit cars could be seen escorting dozens of white Range Rovers out of the Waterkloof Air Force Base.

EWN spotted a large convoy with sirens and lights flashing speeding on the N1 North highway, ushering motorists out of the way.

It is understood the Guptas have chartered several private jets to fly family to South Africa for a wedding.

It is unclear at this stage why the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has allowed the family to use the air force base, and why the police are providing a personal escort service.

Atul Gupta was at the base earlier and told EWN he would grant an interview later.

Members of the public who noticed the blue-light brigade leaving the Waterkloof Air Force Base told EWN what they saw a "a black BMW that looked like members of government and police".

"We were driving behind them; there were about 13 vehicles, and we saw them take the Sun City off-ramp," one person said.