Africa

Gupta row: South Africa's DA rejects official report

The Gupta family wedding Image copyright Gupta family
Image caption The wedding took place over four days in the famous resort of Sun City

South Africa's main opposition party has condemned as a cover-up an official probe into the use of a military base for a society wedding.

The inquiry found that two officials on "a frolic on their own" approved the landing of a private plane at the base, a minister said.

The Gupta family flew guests from India last month - they deny wrongdoing.

The opposition says the incident shows the "undue influence" the family wields over President Jacob Zuma.

The family's business interests in South Africa cover mining, aviation, technology and the media.

Bollywood stars and Indian government officials reportedly flew in for the four-day wedding of Vega Gupta to Aaskash Jahajgarhia in the casino resort of Sun City.

'Consumed by hatred'

During a heated parliamentary debate, MP David Maynier of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party said "heads must roll" over the fact that the chartered plane was allowed to land at the Waterkloof military base near the capital, Pretoria.

"We cannot sit back and allow ministers to get off the hook by hanging a few 'rogue officials' out to dry," he added.

Mr Zuma - who did not attend the debate - was the "root cause" of the problem, Mr Maynier said.

"He is responsible for creating the 'culture of undue influence' referred to in the investigation report," he added.

Releasing the report, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe rejected allegations of a cover-up.

Two officials were on a "frolic on their own" when they granted the family access to the base, and the cabinet was not involved, he said.

The report named the officials as Chief of State Protocol Bruce Koloane and a senior official at Waterkloof, Lt Col Christine Anderson.

The report also said that an individual at the Indian High Commission "re-designated the wedding entourage as an official delegation" so that the base could be used "under the cover of diplomatic privilege".

"The landing of the flight was a direct result of manipulation of processes and was undesirable," the report added.

The Indian High Commission has not yet commented on the findings.

Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said the opposition was blaming Mr Zuma because they were "consumed by hatred" for him.

"If the report does not find Zuma guilty, they are unable to accept it."

When the controversy first broke, Gupta family spokesman Haranath Ghosh said the Indian High Commission had arranged for the plane to land at the base because it was carrying "high profile ministers and dignitaries" who had been invited to the wedding.

The family's 121-car convoy was granted a full police escort to Sun City for the wedding, the inquiry found, AFP news agency reports.

A total of 194 government staff and 88 vehicles were used, 296 private security officers were hired, and two planes and seven helicopters used to ferry guests, it adds.

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