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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day 360: More Political Drama in Sunny SA

http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2013/05/02/guptagate

Twenty flying squad members, 10 high-powered flying squad cars, as many as 40 members of the police counter-assault team and VIP protection unit and several armoured and specialised surveillance vehicles.

This is what taxpayers coughed up to protect more than 200 guests, labelled as "royalty", who are attending the wedding of Vega Gupta, niece of the politically connected Gupta brothers, to Aakash Jahajgarhia, from India, at Sun City in North West.
There is already controversy about the arrival at Waterkloof Air Force base of a passenger jet carrying wedding guests.
It has prompted a multi-pronged investigation by the South African Revenue Service and the Department of Defence.
The civilian guests, who arrived at the air force base without being screened by customs officials, were whisked away in a convoy of white Range Rovers, protected by the large police detail, who clocked in at 5am.
A police officer who was involved in the operation and its planning said yesterday the security detail had been finalised last week already.
They had had to clock in for work at 5am on Tuesday and had knocked off at 2pm.
"The flying squad members [from across Gauteng] were all off duty and will receive additional overtime payments for answering the call to duty," he said.
As many as 40 policemen from the counter-assault team and the VIP protection unit were ordered to escort five trucks from OR Tambo Airport to Sun City. Two of these apparently contained gifts for the wedding couple and dignitaries.
"The CAT members used their armoured Humvees and specialised surveillance vehicles for the operation," said the officer.
The specialist policemen remained at Sun City to protect the venue and guests during the wedding, for which most of the Palace of the Lost City at the resort is booked out.
Police Ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa did not authorise the blue-light escort.
"That is an operational matter. That is dealt with by SAPS management," he said.
SA Police Service national spokesman Brigadier Phuti Setati said: "We are not commenting on the matter for now."
A South African Air Force official working at Waterkloof said they had been told the guests were "royalty" and that they should be treated as such.
"We were told no questions were to be asked in terms of why civilians were landing here. There were, from what we could see, no government officials on board," said an air force member who asked not to be identified. We were given a passenger list to ensure that all were processed without any hindrance," he said.
"This goes against everything an air force base is about - it is only in the strictest of emergencies that civilians can land here or if they are presidents, kings and queens -- not because they are friends of the president."
Yesterday, outrage erupted over what seems to be special treatment for the Gupta family.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said "heads must roll" as the ruling party called for an investigation into the matter.
"The aircraft has compromised our national security," SA Communist Party second deputy president Solly Mapaila said at a Cosatu Workers' Day rally.
"We want those responsible to be called to account. This is a serious abuse and misuse of government resources."
But no one was taking responsibility.
Mac Maharaj, spokesman for President Jacob Zuma, refused to comment, saying "[The Department of] Defence is commenting."
When asked if the president had made any inquiries into the situation, he repeated that he was not commenting.
The secretaries of the tripartite alliance are expected to discuss the matter at a meeting today.
A customs and excise official at the base said the arrival of the Jet Airways A330-203 passenger jet was a "serious breach of protocol".
"We were instructed to bring in additional staff to process the more than 200 passengers. We were told they are friends of Zuma and that this must be done quickly and with as little inconvenience [as possible] to the guests," he said.
"When some tried to question [this] we were warned that this was being done with the highest authority and that the instructions came from the top.
''Obviously our minister and the other government department heads know what is going on.
''They would all have had to sanction something like this.
"They are passing the buck because you guys [the media] found out. The search will be on for [those] who spoke out about it," he said.
Gupta family spokesman Gary Naidoo insisted that permission had been obtained from the defence force to use the base.
He said the Indian High Commission, not the Gupta family, had applied for and was granted the permission.
The Indian High Commissioner in South Africa, Virendra Gupta, could not be reached personally yesterday, but his office declined to comment.
"I am not authorised to comment," said his second in charge, first secretary Mohit Yadav.  - Times Live



Doesn't news like this make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Like the world is a good place and that there is some higher power looking out for us? - Well, for some of us at least, specifically those of us who have buckets and buckets of money.

If I were to hazard a guess as to how many times per day one of the high-up officials in the South African government contravenes the Constitution well then my number would certainly be higher than 1. The South African Constitution stipulates that the government and its representatives must always act in a manner that will allow for the most transparency and public accountability, but the government officials act only out of what seems like self interest. There are numerous stories ever year of misused and misplaced public funds - and those are only the ones we know of. The government officials and close friends are now living in opulence, having every luxury offered to them on a silver platter.

There are friends of the government who are quietly added onto a number of special lists... Now these lists give them access to all sorts of things like funding, donations, kick backs, free housing, fancy cars... all just because they are friends or family with the right people in the government. Now tell me, how the hell can the government justify these actions and allowances? Children cannot receive a decent education for lack of funding but all the aunts and cousins and uncles and friends get to live in luxury, apparently without guilt or remorse?

If there was any shame in these high up corrupt officials and businesspeople then they would have told the world of their sins in an attempt to right their wrongs. Do you see any one of these rich and powerful members of society doing any such thing? And no, charity and philanthropy don't count - they are just scams for these guys to avoid the taxman.

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