JOHANNESBURG – Former Transport Minister Ben Martins said that no one approached him about the Gupta Waterkloof landing issue in 2013.
Martins was testifying at the state capture commission of inquiry about the controversial landing, in which guests for the Gupta family wedding touched down at the Waterkloof Air Force Base.
The former minister has also referred to a meeting of the guests landing at OR Tambo International Airport, saying that Rajesh Gupta wanted a welcoming ceremony for them on the tarmac.
He said that he was also given the impression that there would be four or five Indian ministers on board who were apparently friends of then-President Jacob Zuma.
However, Martins said that when it came to the private plane landing at Waterkloof he wasn’t informed.
“The first time I was aware, was when an official of the air traffic navigation services called me to say that the plane had entered South Africa airspace without a requisite permit. But in regard to the landing of the Gupta plane at Waterkloof Air Force Base, I read it in the newspapers.”
Martins said that he did not attend the Gupta wedding at Sun City in 2013 because the Security Cluster committee had met and advised the minister against attending.
Despite this, some ministers and President Zuma attended the ceremony.
The Guptas held a lavish wedding at Sun City in 2013 after landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base without any approvals or official authorization.
Of the welcoming committee that Rajesh Gupta for his guests at landing at OR Tambo International Airport, Martins says this was not possible because he did not have the authority to do so.
“The decision was that we could not grant that permission. First and foremost, technically, I did not have the authority to do so because on the plane landing, on the tarmac, the authority governing there is the Department of Home Affairs where they have to stamp passports.”