Modi refused to deboard plane over snub, says report; ‘untrue’: South African govt
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being greeted after landing in South Africa for BRICS Summit on Tuesday. | Photo credit: Twitter/@narendramodi

Modi 'refused to deboard plane' over snub, says report; ‘untrue’: South African govt

According to the Daily Maverick, a cabinet minister was initially sent to receive PM Modi but he refused to disembark from his plane

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly “refused” to leave his aircraft on Tuesday (August 22) because the South African government did not send a “more senior official” to welcome him to the country, South African news outlet Daily Maverick reported government officials as saying.

South African Deputy President’s Spokesperson, Vukani Mde, strongly rejected the story published in Daily Maverick concerning Modi’s visit. Dubbing the report as “fabricated”, Mde categorically denied the claims that PM Modi was snubbed upon his arrival and went on to call the newspaper’s narrative a “mystery” due to its seemingly baseless nature. However, the media outlet said they stand by their news report.

According to the Daily Maverick, a cabinet minister was initially sent to receive Modi at the Waterkloof Air Base and the Indian prime minister refused to disembark from his plane. “By contrast, President Cyril Ramaphosa had personally been on the tarmac to greet Chinese President Xi Jinping when he arrived on Monday night,” the website reported.

Ultimately, Deputy President Paul Mashatile left an event held for Xi and proceeded to receive Modi from Waterkloof, it reported officials as alleging. On the other hand, Mashatile’s spokesperson said the plan was always for him to welcome Modi. He added that Mashatile was at the Waterkloof Air Base in Pretoria – near Johannesburg, where the BRICS summit is underway – “well before” Prime Minister Modi landed.

Questions media group's motive

Mde substantiated his statement by revealing that PM Modi’s plane had communicated its imminent landing 30 minutes prior, giving ample time for Deputy President Mashatile to be in position. The statement further addressed the allegation that Deputy President Mashatile’s visit to Waterkloof was a last-minute effort to placate PM Modi’s dissatisfaction.

Mde firmly denied this claim, asserting that Mashatile’s schedule had been carefully managed, allowing him to receive PM Modi without any abrupt rearrangements. This aimed to debunk the notion that his presence was an attempt to “appease” anyone.

The spokesperson’s condemnation of the Daily Maverick’s report was unequivocal. Mde expressed his bewilderment at the media group’s motives for “propagating such fabrications”. He lamented the bid to “mislead” the public and condemned the actions in the “strongest possible terms”.

The disputed Daily Maverick article had alleged that President Cyril Ramaphosa had dispatched Deputy President Mashatile from the ongoing Union Buildings formalities, being held for another visiting leader, to hastily welcome PM Modi.

However, Mde clarified that the Deputy President’s presence at Waterkloof was not a result of a sudden dispatch but rather a well-coordinated effort after his commitments at the Union Buildings had concluded.

Media house claims cyberattack

Meanwhile, Daily Maverick alleged that it has been subjected to a cyberattack from India after it published the report on Modi refusing to leave his aircraft. “I can confirm we have been subject to DDoS attacks from India,” Styli Charalambous, the chief executive officer of Daily Maverick was quoted as saying on Twitter. A Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS, is a kind of cyberattack designed to overwhelm a website or its server with a large amount of traffic, making it unavailable to users.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Daily Maverick quoted its security coordinator as saying: “Several hours ago, the site suddenly went down. We picked it up very quickly and started identifying a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. We investigated and found it was coming from a whole host of Indian servers.”

The site’s Editor-in-Chief Branko Brkic also said: “It was obvious that the purpose of this attack is to deny the people of India access to this story as no attempt was made to hide the source of the attack. This left us with no option but to block the entire domain of India to protect the integrity of the site.”

He made it clear that they stand by their story. “Despite these attempts and subsequent denials by Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s office, Daily Maverick stands by its story and will continue to report on developments,” Brkic said. Daily Maverick has been investigating ways to make the article accessible to India but the attack is so large, it’s proving difficult, the media house tweeted.

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