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Mapisa-Nqakula says SANDF VVIP fleet grounded

Six aircraft make up 21 Squadron - that’s the name for the fleet of aircraft that’s meant to fly the country’s top dignitaries. None of them can take off because no maintenance contracts are in place.

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - The Minister of Defence has revealed the VVIP fleet of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is grounded because it can’t service the aircraft.

In a written response to a parliamentary question, Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula also confirms the SANDF has spent R30 million over the last year chartering planes to transport former president Jacob Zuma, his then deputy Cyril Ramaphosa and the defence minister.

Six aircraft make up 21 Squadron - that’s the name for the fleet of aircraft that’s meant to fly the country’s top dignitaries.

But it’s emerged that none of them can take off, because no maintenance contracts are in place.

In answer to a parliamentary question from the Congress of the People, Mapisa-Nqakula says while contracts are being finalised, the Defence Force has permission from Treasury to charter aircraft.

In the past financial year, this has cost nearly R31 million. Of that amount, R22 million was spent on hiring aircraft for former president Jacob Zuma.

And a further R7 million on flights for the deputy president.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa was spotted travelling economy class to Durban on a Safair flight.

But he couldn’t fly Safair for his recent trip to Rwanda, the defence minister has revealed that hiring an Airbus 330-200 for that trip cost the taxpayer R1.7 million.