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'Guptagate': Indian High Commission responds

The commission on Tuesday moved to clarify its request for permission to land at Waterkloof.

Aakash Jahajgarhia and Vega Gupta shortly before their wedding. Picture: Gupta family

JOHANNESBURG - The Indian High Commission on Tuesday moved to clarify its request for permission to land a charter flight at Waterkloof Air Force base.

The flight, carrying Gupta wedding guests, landed at the base in April with over 200 people on board, including Indian state ministers.

Following the Eyewitness News exposé, the plane was ordered to leave the base and depart from OR Tambo International.

The influential family is said to have close ties with President Jacob Zuma.

On Tuesday, the commission contradicted government's position that it did not follow the correct procedure to land the aircraft at the Centurion base.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Sunday released the findings of a government investigation into the debacle.

The minister said that there was no official note from the Indian commission to the Department of International Relations.

According to Radebe, the commission communicated directly with officers at the air force command post.

The report indicated that the Gupta family used Zuma's name to get permission to land at the base.

Radebe said the clearance for the landing of the aircraft was "based on false information and abuse of privileges, the combination of which resulted in the manipulation of the process by various persons who shared a common purpose and acted in concert".

On Monday, the ANC welcomed the report saying it exonerated the president and senior Cabinet ministers.

However, the commission said a formal request was sent by the defence advisor in the high commission in February.

It said the document was sent to the chief of defence foreign relations in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and it followed standard channels of communication.

The commission added the request was made as the flight was carrying senior political figures and that security was important.

However, the high commission did not clarify why the Gupta family delegation was not declared.

Meanwhile, Members of Parliament (MPs) will debate the so-called Guptagate saga in Parliament on Wednesday.

The ruling party indicated Zuma will not attend the debate as he is not an MP.

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