Bishops weigh in on Gupta saga

South Africa
The private plane that carried wedding guests of the Gupta family from India prepares for take-off at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria. The pilot has been granted permission to land the plane at OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: eNCA / Jason Boswell

Johannesburg - The government owes South Africans a full explanation about the alleged misuse of state property and personnel for the Gupta family wedding, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) said on Friday.

"The situation has not been helped by the way in which various government spokespeople, including the presidential spokesperson, have either declined to comment, or have merely disclaimed responsibility," it said in a statement.

"This only serves to heighten suspicions about who ultimately authorised such special treatment for a private wedding party."

The SACBC said the police should busy themselves by combating crime, for which "there is a crying need," and not by providing private security services at taxpayers' expense.

The Gupta family, which owns The New Age newspaper and Sahara Computers, is celebrating the wedding of Vega Gupta, 23, to Indian-born Aakash Jahajgarhia in Sun City, North West.

It has emerged that a private jet charted by the family was allowed to land at Waterkloof Air Force Base on Tuesday. It has also been reported that scores of police were assigned to protect and escort guests to the wedding.

Amid denials from one government department after another, it has yet to be established who gave permission for the jet to land at the air force base. Each department is now conducting its own investigation into the matter.

"We cannot afford to gain the reputation of being a country where it is who you know that counts, and where wealth can buy privileged treatment from the authorities," the SACBC said.

-Sapa

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