TOM EATON: China’s touchdown needs ground control
Now we are listening to warnings that a third set of powerful visitors is en route and that our sovereignty might once again be trampled
For a few hours on the day before Nelson Mandela’s funeral, international heads of state were banging down at Waterkloof like Highveld hailstones. Whether we liked it or not. A 2013 memo by the US Defense Intelligence Agency put a less meteorological, and more worrying, spin on the morning’s chaos: between 2am and 6am, it claimed, several aircraft "disregarded host nation guidance and proceeded to land at [Waterkloof] without landing clearance". And then the important part: "To not have to admit to allowing uncleared aircraft to land at the SAAF base‚ the South Africa Overflight office issued verbal landing clearance to [Waterkloof] as the uncleared aircraft touched down at Waterkloof." Of course this wasn’t the first time a dodgy arrival at Waterkloof had to be fudged to save face: earlier that year the Guptas had hijacked the airbase for a family wedding. (In retrospect, they really did show us exactly who they were, didn’t they?) Now we are listening to warnings that a third set ...