First On EWN: Private jet chartered for Zuma's US trip

EWN understands a chartered private jet was used by Jacob Zuma to travel to USA on govt business.

President Jacob Zuma is welcomed to New Yorkby SA Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool on 21 September 2014. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News understands the Department of Defence has chartered a private jet for President Jacob Zuma to attend the 69th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, instead of using the government-owned presidential jet.

This is the same aircraft controversially chartered three years ago, costing more than R6 million.

It's unclear how much this trip is costing the country and why it was necessary.

The charter company is owned by entrepreneur and businessman Ivor Ichikowitz, a prominent African National Congress (ANC) backer.

In September 2011 the president arrived in New York on the privately charted Boeing 727-200.

American plane spotters say the exact same aircraft, which is being leased to the South African government, had arrived there this week.

Three years ago government defended a decision to charter the plane, saying the presidential jet was undergoing a major service.

Fortune Air, a Lanseria-based charter company, owned by Ichikowitz, loaned a jet to Zuma free of charge in 2008 to travel to Lebanon and Kazakhstan.

The UN's General Assembly concludes on Tuesday next week.

The Defence Department has not yet responded to questions by Eyewitness News .