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'Overwhelming probability' Zuma knew Gupta wedding party intended landing at Waterkloof

Tankiso Makhetha Investigative reporter
The Gupta wedding party aircraft that landed at Waterkloof military base. File photo.
The Gupta wedding party aircraft that landed at Waterkloof military base. File photo.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Sunday Times

It is difficult to accept that former president Jacob Zuma did not have knowledge about the controversial 2013 Waterkloof landing before it happened, according to the latest instalment of the state capture report. 

State capture commission chair chief justice Raymond Zondo found that, considering Zuma’s “admittedly close relationship” with the Gupta family, the probabilities were overwhelming that he knew about the plans for a private aircraft to land at Waterkloof military base and had no objections.

“Given how the Guptas flaunted [their] friendship with president Zuma, it is extremely unlikely that they would not have informed him about those plans and attempted to secure his support for their implementation,” said Zondo. 

The Gupta family flew in about 200 guests for a lavish family wedding at Sun City, an incident which, possibly for the first time, showed the family’s influence over the state. 

But, on July 15 2019, Zuma testified before the commission that he did not discuss, nor did he plan or have knowledge of the Gupta Waterkloof landing.

“The question that arises is this: how credible is Mr Zuma’s version that, before the landing of the Gupta aircraft at Waterkloof, he did not know about it and he had never discussed the issue with the Guptas?

“It is necessary to examine Mr Zuma’s evidence in the light of the totality of evidence heard by the commission, including Zuma’s relationship with the Guptas, the nature of the relationship with them and what he was prepared to do for the Guptas.” 

Zondo said the one known fact was that Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, was in business with the Guptas and that the former head of state was indebted to the family because they gave his son a job when apparently nobody was willing to employ his children. 

“Advocate Ngoako Ramotlhodi testified before the commission that in meetings of the national executive committee of the ANC voices were raised to the effect that president Zuma’s relationship with the Guptas was affecting the image or reputation of the government and the ANC negatively, and he was urged to end it.

“Mr Zuma always defended his relationship with the Gupta family on the basis that they helped his children when he was going through difficult times and would not entertain the idea of ending his friendship with them,” said Zondo.


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