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'Guptas ignored Govt decisions'

Seven Ministers led by Jeff Radebe released the findings of the 'Guptagate' probe on Sunday.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe at a news briefing on 19 May 2013 about the so-called Guptagate. Picture: GCIS.

PRETORIA - A government investigation has found that attempts by some officials to question plans to land the Gupta-charted plane at Waterkloof Air Force Base were ignored and overridden by those orchestrating it.

Justice Cluster Chairperson and Minister Jeff Radebe released the findings into the unauthorised landing at a briefing in Pretoria on Sunday.

Eyewitness News broke the story nearly three weeks ago when the jet landed at the strategic military base with 200 wedding guests on board.

The Directors-General (DGs) probe found after government dismissed a request to use the Air Force Base, the Gupta family colluded with the Indian High Commission and senior government officials to undermine the executive authority.

Radebe said, "The breach in this instance was a manipulation by the responsible person who contemptuously manipulated the system to advance the wedding objectives at all costs."

He said junior officials who were concerned were dismissed.

"Their concerns were neither addressed nor acted upon by those in positions of authority over them who planned manipulating the system and working with them outside the state."

Radebe said the names of senior cabinet officials and even the President were used to ensure the red carpet was rolled out for the Gupta wedding delegation.

Eyewitness News broke the story on 30 April when the jet landed at the military base with 200 wedding guests on board.

Radebe said the Gupta family colluded with the Indian High Commission and South African government officials and used President Jacob Zuma's name to get their way.

"The activities of some of the people involved were driven by the undesirable practice of the exercise of undue influence and abuse of high office."

Over and above the landing authorisation, the Minister said more than 100 personnel and twice as many vehicles were deployed to handle the Gupta wedding delegation.

"These include the identified culture of undue influence under poor ethical conduct and a lack of professionalism."

Radebe said the Gupta family first approached the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) for special use of OR Tambo International Airport, but this was declined.

The family then approached Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula but again their request was declined.

He said after being denied, the Gupta family turned to underhanded means to give their wedding guests the red carpet treatment.

"They then went to use the diplomatic channel with the support of an individual in the Indian High Commission, who redesignated the wedding entourage as an official delegation to enable them to use the Air Force Base under the cover of diplomatic privilege."

Radebe said diplomatic privileges were abused.

The Minister said government acknowledged the use of name dropping to exert undue influence on civil servants.

Radebe said disciplinary hearings were underway.

A total of 11 Tshwane Metro police officers were also suspended for providing security and escorting the wedding guests to Sun City.

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