The row over the landing of a private aircraft on a military airport for a lavish Indian wedding in South Africa snowballed into a political scandal Thursday with a senior diplomat suspended and President Jacob Zuma deciding not to attend the marriage of the century.
An aircraft,chartered by the prominent Gupta family,which has close ties with President Zuma,landed at the restricted Waterkloof Air Base in Pretoria on Tuesday. The aircraft carried about 200 people en route to Sun City for the wedding taking place this week.
The foreign ministrys chief of protocol Bruce Koloane was placed on leave pending investigation into the incident.
International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said preliminary investigations show no permission was given for the airplane to land at the military airbase,state-owned broadcaster SABC reported.
There was no executive authority granted either by the Department of international Relations,the Presidency or indeed the Department of Defence. However,having said that,some government officials in the process managed somehow,to secure flight clearances and thats what the preliminary reports shows us, Monyela said.
And thats why this decision has been take so that all these matters can be probed around circumstances in which they were able to secure this flight clearance allowing this plane to land there, he said.
The billionaire family,which owns The New Age newspaper and Sahara Computers,is expected to celebrate the wedding of Vega Gupta,23,to Indian-born Aaskash Jahajgarhia at Sun City between May 1 and 4.
Meanwhile,minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane Thursday said President Zuma was not going to attend the lavish Gupta wedding at Sun City this weekend.
A South African National Defence Force spokesperson said earlier he was not aware of permission being given to any private citizen to land at Waterkloof. The Tripartite alliance has called for a probe into the incident.