News Jacob Zuma. File photo Image: Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters A bungle by Department of Defence head honchos in leasing planes for the president and his deputy is set to cost taxpayers more than R200-million. Seven years ago‚ the department went shopping for two aircraft for “very‚ very important persons” – then-president Jacob Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe. But the secretary for defence‚ Sam Gulube‚ and his predecessor‚ Mpumi Mpofu‚ failed to sign the five-year lease agreement‚ worth nearly R827-million‚ with successful bidder Adonai Aviation. This was despite having given the company an “acceptance letter”. Instead‚ the department started “scouting around for the acquisition or lease of other aircraft”. Now the High Court in Pretoria has ruled that Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula must pay the company more than R200-million in damages and slapped her with a punitive costs order. In his judgment‚ Judge Norman Davis said he was appalled by the department’s conduct. Mpofu and former air force chief Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano resigned in 2011 amid claims that mercenary pilots had been hired to fly VIPs. The department was left red-faced in the same year when Motlanthe had to board a commercial flight to Scandinavia after a chartered aircraft… Read full this story
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