Mapisa-Nqakula: Nothing untoward about use of Gupta jet

The minister says the ownership of the jet should not overshadow that the correct procedures were followed.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula clarifies the lease of a Gupta-owned jet for a government delegation. Picture: Dineo Bendile/EWN.

PRETORIA - Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says there was nothing untoward about the procurement of a Gupta-owned jet for deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa's official visit to Japan.

Mapisa-Nqakula held a briefing at the Waterkloof Air Force Base today to explain why the government delegation leased a jet instead of using the Air Force's own aircraft.

It's believed close to R5 million of taxpayer money was spent to transport the deputy president last weekend.

The defence minister says the fact that the Bombardier Aerospace belongs to the Guptas should not overshadow the fact that all correct procedures were followed for the procurement.

"People are not looking at the processes. People are looking at the owners of the company, and it so happens that this aircraft is owned by the Guptas."

Mapisa-Nqakula says the deputy president and his delegation had specific requirements for an aircraft that would make minimal fuel stops and have enough sleeping space.

She says the private jet was chartered from contracted company ExecuJet because the only suitable aircraft from the air force was in use.

The minister says ExecuJet was not obliged to disclose that the procured jet belongs to the Guptas.

She adds that it's unfair for previous issues with the Guptas to cloud the procurement of a private jet owned by the family.

She has described the ownership of the chartered jet as 'neither here nor there'.

Mapisa-Nqakula says if there was anything irregular about the procurement of a Gupta owned aircraft, she wouldn't have hesitated to question the process.

Authorities say one of the VVIP planes reserved for presidential purposes was in use, with the second being simply unsuitable for the deputy president's delegation.

The jet was procured from Westdawn investments, a company owned by the Guptas, in which President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane is a director.