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Zondo inquiry told poor communication led to Gupta landing at Waterkloof

Over 200 wedding guests landed at the national key point for the event in 2013 which is reserved only for presidents and their deputies.

FILE: Deputy Chief Justice Zondo during the first public hearing on state capture allegations in Johannesburg on 20 August 2018. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The state capture commission has heard that there was a lack of communication between government departments which resulted in the irregular landing of a Gupta jet at Waterkloof Air Force Base.

Over 200 wedding guests landed at the national key point for the event in 2013 which is reserved only for presidents and their deputies.

Military officer Mbuyiselo Mgwebi has testified that if the parties involved had used the official channels of communication, they would have realised that something was wrong.

“Seven helicopters landing very early in the morning and you’ve got two more landings in the evening. You then get to know that those in command, do not know what is happening.”

Mgwebi said poor communication between officials led to the jet landing.

“If those aircraft which landed about two hours earlier were known and interrogated, then it would have not have landed two hours later.”

The chief of the South African National Air Force Fabian Msimang has also testified at the commission, saying he initially denied a request for the Gupta's private plane to land at Waterkloof.

Msimang said he was approached by the political adviser to the minister of defence on the issue and he was clear that it would be against the rules for civilians to land at Waterkloof.

“That the chief of the South African Air Force informed the political advisors that would be irregular for an aircraft carrying Indian wedding guests to land at the base. The chief advised the political advisor that the matter should not be entertained any further.”

Msimang admitted their communication system was flawed and needed to be improved.

“There is no overarching instrument that pulls together including other government departments… and it’s unfortunate that, at the end of the day, it is those people at level four who are exposed.”