Guptagate: Family acknowledges some `misjudgements`

Last Updated: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 17:10

Johannesburg: A well-connected Indian family in South Africa has acknowledged that some "misjudgements" could have been made in the process to secure landing rights for their chartered plane at a military air base for a lavish wedding, which sparked a controversy that hit global media headlines.

A probe into the controversial Indian wedding on Sunday absolved President Jacob Zuma and implicated a top Indian High Commission official for "name-dropping" and "manipulation".

"Perhaps some misjudgements may have been made," the Gupta family spokesperson Gary Naidoo said in a statement.

The family said it had only wanted to hold a memorable wedding, but realised that some bad decisions could have been made in the process.

Naidoo said the preliminary findings from the probe into last month`s incident shed some light on the matter and the family would wait for the release of the full report.

"We wish to once again re-iterate our apology for any embarrassment or inconvenience caused by the landing of the aircraft," Naidoo was quoted as saying by SAPA news agency.

The Gupta family, which owns The New Age newspaper and Sahara Computers, made global headlines when the plane, chartered by them, carrying around 200 guests from India, landed at Waterkloof Air Force base in Pretoria on April 29 without proper authorisation.

One of the findings was that the landing of a chartered commercial aircraft was a direct result of manipulation of processes and that names had been "dropped" in the course of events, South Africa`s Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said yesterday while delivering the preliminary findings of the investigation.

"...We are saying without any fear of contradiction, no minister was involved in this matter. The president was not involved in this matter," he said.

The billionaire Gupta family, which has close ties to Zuma, celebrated the wedding of Vega Gupta, 23, to India-born Aaskash Jahajgarhia at Sun City on May 3.

The wedding, billed as `the South African wedding of the century`, also had Bollywood actors and singers flying in for an extravagant celebration.

The incident caused an outcry over the breach of security at a national key point amid confusion over who had authorised the landing.

Atul Gupta, the head of billionaire family, had earlier also apologised to Indian and South African governments as well as to the public for triggering the scandal.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Democratic Alliance has demanded an independent investigation into the controversy.

"From the start, the investigation into the landing... was a carefully crafted damage-control exercise designed to protect Zuma and members of his Cabinet from the political fallout," said David Maynier, a Democratic Alliance lawmaker.

PTI



First Published: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 17:10

comments powered by Disqus