Tycoon sorry over wedding jet

AFP-JIJI

A wealthy Indian family in South Africa apologized Saturday for a diplomatic scandal over the use of a military air base to land a private jet flying their guests to a wedding.

The Gupta family, which has close ties to President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress party, landed a chartered plane at Waterkloof Air Force Base, near Pretoria, on Tuesday without permits, prompting a national condemnation.

“In light of what happened . . . the family would like to issue a general apology to all affected, including the South African and Indian governments, the local authorities, the South African public and especially our guests,” Atul Gupta said in a statement.

A senior South African diplomat and several police officers have been suspended for their role in allowing the aircraft to land at the restricted base.

Some 200 passengers, including Bollywood stars and politicians, flew in to attend the lavish wedding of Vega Gupta, a niece of the powerful Gupta businessmen, who own several companies including Sahara Computers and the progovernment New Age newspaper. They received a full police escort to the Sun City resort for the four-day affair, billed as “the wedding of the year.”