'Govt knew chartered jet was owned by Guptas'

Sandu says private planes leased through govt go through stringent security processes.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at Tokyo International Airport in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Defence Union (Sandu) says government officials had to have known that the Gupta family owned the private jet chartered by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and his delegation to fly to Japan.

This week Eyewitness News revealed that the Department of Defence (DOD) had chartered the Gupta-owned Bombardier at an estimated cost of approximately R5 million.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is expected to hold a press conference this morning to address the furor surrounding this issue.

Sandu's Pikkie Greeff says the private planes leased through government suppliers like ExecuJet go through stringent security vetting processes.

The new Gupta jet, which was not previously listed as an officially approved plane, was rushed through a security clearance last week.

Greeff says the country's intelligence officials would have done several checks.

"That would include sourcing the exact history of the plane as well as the owners of the plane. So there is no way that the Presidency in this specific case could say that it did not know who the plane belonged to."

While the Air Force does ensure security specifications are met, the contracts to lease the planes falls under National Treasury.