NATIONAL NEWS - Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has continued to weigh in on the work of her successor, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, this time calling into question her office’s decision to close the investigation into the Gupta family’s hugely controversial 2013 aeroplane landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base, according to a report in Business Day.
Madonsela told the publication that the Waterkloof investigation had been completed and that all that remained was for Mkhwebane to issue a report.
The former public protector said she reached out to the office after Mkhwebane reportedly incorrectly claimed that there was no public protector investigation into the matter, adding that her office went on to then close the investigation.
The reasons for this, according to Madonsela, are a “mystery”.
Mkhwebane, meanwhile, told Business Day that the investigation was halted because new events had “overtaken” the need for it to be concluded.
The investigation centred around accusations by Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson that she had been made a scapegoat in the matter following the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster investigation into the incident.
Mkwhebane said that this investigation led to a military inquiry into Anderson’s role in granting clearance for the landing, but that this inquiry had since been dropped and the case against her had been withdrawn, meaning a report on the matter would have served no purpose.
This contradicts Madonsela’s view that the investigation was completed and that the office of the public protector was expected to issue a report.
The current and former public protectors have been butting heads in the past few days, with Business Day reporting on Monday that Madonsela had spoken out about Mkhwebane’s claim that under the former public protector’s leadership her office had publicly announced that it had issued Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan with a Section 7(9) notice, something Madonsela denies.
Madonsela told the publication that Mkhwebane should not have used her predecessor’s name to justify her actions.
Madonsela said she decided to speak up on the matter because it was her responsibility to clear her name, in a move that was highly criticised by Economic Freedom Fighters deputy president Floyd Shivambu, who took to social media to urge the former public protector to “relax” and allow Mkhwebane to do her job.
The controversial Gupta family’s reputation for lavish weddings precedes them, with the 2013 Sun City marriage of Vega Gupta to Aakash Jahajgarhi having made the family a household name in South Africa after they caused outrage by landing a plane full of more than 100 wedding-bound guests at Waterkloof airforce base.
The Citizen reported yesterday that Ajay Gupta’s son, Suryakant, and Atul Gupta’s son, Shashank, will wed in June at a lavish double wedding believed to cost roughly R427 million. It will take place at the top-notch ski resort of Auli, which is located in Chamoli district of the Garhwal Himalayas.
The controversial landing in 2013 signalled then president Jacob Zuma auctioning his executive authority to a third party – “an insult to those who died for freedom in South Africa”, said former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi when testifying at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture at the end of November last year.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)