A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
SENIOR OFFICIAL SUSPENDED OVER WATERKLOOF SCANDAL
A senior foreign ministry official has been suspended after a charter plane carrying nearly 200 guests for the wedding of a family with close ties to President Jacob Zuma used Waterkloof Air Force base without proper military permission. The department of international relations and co-operation said its protocol chief, Bruce Koloane, had been suspended to “allow the department to get to the bottom of this matter”, adding that no “executive authority” was granted for a civilian aircraft to land at the base. The defence ministry said it had rejected a request from the Guptas to use the base but the Indian High Commission in Pretoria then went behind its back and sought authorisation from the Chief of State Protocol at the foreign ministry.
CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY REGULATIONS FLOUTED
Democratic Alliance defence spokesman David Maynier says the Civil Aviation Authority did not authorise the use of Waterkloof Air Force Base for the Gupta family’s chartered plane. Maynier said he had spoken to the CAA acting director, Poppy Khoza, who confirmed she had not even received a request to authorise the use of AFB Waterkloof for “civil aviation purposes” as is required by the Civil Aviation Authority regulations. Maynier said it was hard to believe that South Africa’s chief of state protocol, as well as senior military officers, “pulled off the landing of the Guptas’ Jet Airways Airbus A330-200 at AFB Waterkloof, without political authorisation”. He said the “rogue officials” explanation was hard to believe and “smacks of damage control”. The Gupta jet has been removed from the base and taken to OR Tambo, a defence department spokesman said.
GUPTA FAMILY SAYS NO VIP POLICE BEING USED AT WEDDING
Police minister Nathi Mthethwa has launched an investigation to find out if South African Police Service rules were violated in providing VIP protection for guests attending the Gupta family wedding in Sun City. The Times reported on Thursday that 20 flying squad members, 10 high-powered flying squad cars, as well as 40 members of the police counter-assault team and VIP protection unit were part of an entourage protecting the delegation. The Gupta family, in a statement, said they were “saddened by the on-going negative reporting surrounding the wedding held at Sun City this week”. Spokesman Haranath Ghosh said the family had “obtained each and every permission for any and every part of the event” “We can categorically state that no police escorts are being used for the family during the wedding,” Ghosh said.
PRIVATE LAW FIRMS HANDLED ZUMA CORRUPTION TRIAL
Private law firms, engaged through the office of the state attorney, were used to fight President Jacob Zuma’s legal battles. DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, said minister in the presidency Collins Chabane, replying to a parliamentary question, confirmed this. “It is unacceptable that public money was used to fund Mr Zuma’s legal battle with the state. This matter arose before he assumed the office of President, and is a matter in which he is personally involved. He should foot the bill himself,” Mazibuko said in a statement. She said she would request that the auditor general investigate whether this expenditure constitutes fruitless, wasteful or irregular expenditure. She said she would also request a full break down of the legal expenses in the matter of State v Zuma. “In total, the Presidency has spent R28 million since President Zuma assumed office on legal fees,” she said.
FRANSMAN CHASED OUT OF OUDTSHOORN
Western Cape ANC leader, Marius Fransman, was forced to flee a meeting in Oudtshoorn after being attacked by members of his party. Fransman, who is a deputy minister of international relations and co-operation, went to Oudtshoorn to help remove the sitting mayor, Gordon April, from his post. Fransman told The Times he had a successful meeting with the ANC executive in the region but that later in the evening, a “mob tried to storm the municipal chambers and the police had to escort us out of the area”. Fransman says the “thugs” were transported into the area to prevent the ANC from taking “corrective action” in the municipality. April has been charged with various offences including
theft, intimidation and the illegal use of a municipal vehicle.
ZAMBIA HIGH COMMISSIONER MUST EXPLAIN NEGATIVE SA REMARKS
The department of international relations and co-operation has taken exception to comments made by Zambia’s vice president Guy Scott about South Africa. Scott, in an interview with The Guardian newspaper, said he hated South Africans. “That’s not a fair thing to say because I like a lot of South Africans but they really think they’re the bees’ knees and actually they’ve been the cause of so much trouble in this part of the world,” Scott said. He compared President Jacob Zuma to former president FW de Klerk. Dirco spokesman Clayson Monyela said the department had noted the negative remarks and that SA would “take the matter up through the appropriate diplomatic channels”. He said Zambia’s high commissioner would be summoned to explain the remarks “and what it means in the context of our bilateral relations”.
PUBLIC PROTECTOR TABLES HER OFFICE’S STRATEGIC PLAN
The Public Protector has reported an “upsurge” in her workload and the number of case her institution finalised in the 2012/13 financial year. Advocate Thuli Madonsela, tabling her department’s strategic plan in parliament, said the complaints related to service delivery, corruption, protected disclosures and those relating to the ethical behaviour of members of the executive. She said her offices biggest challenge was a lack of resources and government’s increasing use of lawyers to respond to queries from her office. Madonsela told committee members that over and above the R199 million budget allocated to her office this year, she would require a further R77 million to finance unfunded posts in the office’s approved organisational structure.
LIMPOPO MAN JAILED FOR LIFE FOR RADIO DATING SHOW MURDERS
A high court sitting in Polokwane has jailed a Limpopo man for life for killing two women who took part in a radio dating show. Sapa reported that Kabelo Rodney Maake was sentenced to life for each of the murders, and to a third life term for murdering another woman. Police spokeswoman Colonel Ronel Otto said Maake pleaded guilty to the charges, which included kidnapping and armed robbery. Otto said he arranged to meet Catherine Morema in Mahwibidung village near Tzaneen during a dating show on Capricorn FM between June and November 2010. He also arranged to meet Mahlako Millicent Rachuene at Mahwibidung village, and took her to an isolated spot where she was strangled. “The suspect was arrested a few months after the murders, after information received from community members was followed up,” said Otto. DM
Photo: Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa (Daily Maverick)
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