News / Africa

    4 Officials Suspended in S. Africa's Widening Gupta Scandal

    Photo courtesy of Eye Witness News (EWN) shows Gauteng Flying Squad vehicle waiting to escort Gupta wedding guests to Sun City, Waterkloof Airforce Base, near Pretoria, April 30, 2013.
    Photo courtesy of Eye Witness News (EWN) shows Gauteng Flying Squad vehicle waiting to escort Gupta wedding guests to Sun City, Waterkloof Airforce Base, near Pretoria, April 30, 2013.
    Reuters
    South Africa suspended four top security officials on Friday, including two brigadier generals, in a widening scandal over a plane chartered by a family with close ties to President Jacob Zuma using an air force base without proper permission.

    The affair - dubbed "Guptagate" after the influential Indian-born Gupta family - has transfixed South Africa since the private flight landed at Pretoria's Waterkloof Air Force base on Tuesday with nearly 200 guests for a lavish family wedding.

    It has also shone an uncomfortable spotlight on Zuma's relationship with Gupta brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh, whose South African business empire stretches from mining and resources to aviation and technology.

    In a news conference attended by six cabinet ministers, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe promised to find out how the plane was allowed to land at the base, one of South Africa's most important military sites.

    "There was no executive authority granted for this plane to land. That is the bottom line "Radebe said. "whatever permission was there was an unauthorized one."

    The scandal has ranged from farce - border officials had to interrupt the four-day wedding at the luxurious Sun City resort to get guests to fill in belated customs forms - to a potentially serious diplomatic incident.

    A top foreign ministry bureaucrat who helped secure landing rights from Waterkloof commanders has already been suspended, and Indian High Commission officials who went directly to the base commanders for landing permits are also in trouble.

    "It is not normal that an official at an embassy goes to a government entity and starts soliciting permits," Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told journalists.

    She is due to meet the Indian ambassador on Friday.

    "Due courtesies"

    India said no protocols had been breached and that the plane was carrying politicians from the Samajwadi Party, a regional ally of the Delhi government led by prominent national politician Mulayam Singh.

    "Whenever senior government functionaries travel, we request due courtesies from the local authorities and in this instance too the same practice was followed," foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.

    So far, the episode has failed to suck in Zuma, who missed the wedding due to a state visit to the Republic of Congo, but it is seen as another example of the influence-peddling and cronyism that the president's critics say has become endemic since he came to power in 2009.

    Two of Zuma's children have served as directors of a number of Gupta companies, according to South Africa's companies database, and the family is a major financial backer of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

    "This is bigger than whether or not the bags were searched.

    "It tells us who we are," Johannesburg's Star newspaper said in an editorial. "If you have money and friends in powerful places, you can do as you wish."

    In addition to the suspended base commanders, Radebe said two policemen had been arrested for moonlighting as private security guards in the luxury car convoy that took the wedding guests from the airbase to Sun City.

    The police have also opened a criminal case against a Pretoria car hire firm for the illegal use of flashing 'blue lights' in the suite of BMWs in the convoy.

    The plane, an Airbus 330-200 owned by India's Jet Airways, has been moved from Waterkloof to Johannesburg's OR Tambo international airport.

    You May Like

    Can EU Survive a Brexit?

    Across Europe politicians are asking if the British vote to leave the European Union will set in motion dynamics that will see other member states leave too

    Video Entrepreneurs at Global Summit Tackle Range of Challenges

    Innovators strive to halt sexual harassment in India, improve rural health in Myanmar, build businesses in Africa

    Key African Anti-Venom About to Permanently Run Out

    The tale of Fav-Afrique’s demise is a complicated one that reflects a deeper crisis brewing in global public health

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Marketsi
    X
    June 24, 2016 10:43 AM
    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Britain’s Vote to Leave EU Sends Shockwaves Through Global Markets

    Britain’s historic decision to leave the European Union is sending shockwaves through global markets. Markets from Tokyo to Europe tumbled Friday under the uncertainty the ballot brings, while regional leaders in Asia took steps to limit the possible fallout. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.
    Video

    Video During Ramadan, Faith and Football Converge in Lebanon’s Megadome

    In Beirut, a group of young entrepreneurs has combined its Muslim faith and love of football to create the city's newest landmark: a large, Ramadan-ready dome primed for one of the biggest football (soccer) tournaments in the world. But as the faithful embrace the communal spirit of Islam’s holy month, it is not just those breaking their fasts that are welcome.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora