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SANDF defends decision to purchase new VVIP jets

The presidential jet will be supplemented by three new VIP jets, including one used Boeing business jet.

FILE: The department says it’s found itself having to charter aircraft and this is costly. Picture: Wikimedia Commons.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has defended its decision to acquire additional aircraft for president Jacob Zuma and members of his cabinet costing about R2 billion.

Inkwazi, the presidential jet will be supplemented by three new VIP jets, including one used Boeing business jet and two new Falcon 900 business jets.

The South African Airforce says the current fleet is not sufficient for cabinet transportation due to South Africa's increased international relations commitments.

The department says it's found itself having to charter aircraft and this is costly.

Last year, however, Secretary of Defence Dr Sam Gulube told members of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans the Defence Force won't be buying any VVIP aircraft and they had not been budgeted for.

The Defence Force says the budget for these jets was initially meant for other equipment including new transport aircraft for the movement of troops.

Last week, the air force cancelled the backup helicopter previously provided to the president's family and friends travelling between Durban and Nkandla.

The City Press newspaper reported that family and friends have been hitching rides from the air force base in Durban.

The newspaper reported that the helicopter known as the 'Zuma Taxi' costs the presidency R63,000 an hour.

The presidency's Mac Maharaj denied the allegations saying no member of the family used the chopper unless accompanying the president.

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