Several well-placed sources have told Sunday World that the charges against Gupta were said to be “weak”.
“We welcome the decision to drop the charges because it follows on the recent announcement by the police that the presence and involvement of the police at the wedding was above board. We remain very sorry about any embarrassment caused to anyone. Our only desire was to give Vega and Aakash the best wedding ever,” Gupta said.
But Sunday World has reliably learnt that a formal decision on Gupta’s fate will be announced later in the week.
An official with intimate knowledge of the disiciplinary proceedings against Gupta, said: “He (Gupta) can say what he’s saying, but the reality is that it will be the disciplinary committee that says what happens to him during the week.”
Gupta, who is President Jacob Zuma’s friend, was charged with bringing the ANC into disrepute by manipulating state resources to land a private jet carrying over 200 wedding guests, at Waterkloof Air Force base, Pretoria, in May.
The police who escorted the guests were later charged for moonlighting and illegal use of blue lights and for carrying state-issued firearms on private work.
The wedding was that of Gupta’s niece at Sun City, North West.
A member of the ANC ward 73 branch, which includes Houghton, said the Saxonwold branch of the party had asked advocate Dali Mpofu to give the branch a legal opinion on the charges before pressing ahead with them.
Mpofu, who is the convenor of the branch disciplinary committee set up to hear the matter, is believed to have taken a dim view of the charges against Gupta.
“Dali looked at it and told them there was no case. They got a second opinion from a lawyer who is not a member of the party and he also told them they didn’t have a leg to stand on,” said the branch member.
Mpofu refused to comment: “I can’t talk to you,” he said.
Another source with intimate knowledge of the charges against Gupta said the difficulty with the allegations against Gupta was that they were in connection with events that did not involve the party.
“A view is held that this is a matter that should have been handled at government level because that is where these indiscretions took place. The party will have a hard time proving that he embarrassed it,” the source said.
A senior ANC member and government official said the branch seemed desperate to get rid of Gupta. “One of the ANC’s principles is developmental discipline. You don’t just expel someone without having tried to develop them,” the senior leader said.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe referred all queries to the Saxonwold branch. “Talk to the branch,” he said twice.
But the chairman of the ANC’s Saxonwold branch, Sipho Sithole, said yesterday that the disciplinary committee would meet this week.
“The branch cannot comment on the outcome of the Branch Disciplinary Committee’s investigation as it has not been informed of the progress of the case. The disciplinary committee will meet only this coming week,” he said yesterday.
National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) chairman and Minister of Science Derek Hanekom said the matter had not reached his office. “The NDC is not involved at this stage. I think that matter could go all the way up to my office,” he said, adding that he couldn’t comment further.