Army abandons Gupta charges, opens way ‘for civil claim of millions’

2015-01-20 13:28

The army has withdrawn all charges against Lieutenant Colonels Christine Anderson and Stefan van Zyl, the last two “suspects” in the Gupta saga. reports that Advocate Pikkie Greeff from the South African National Defence Union, who was assisting the two with legal advice, said this morning the union’s lawyers had received a letter from the army that confirmed it was withdrawing the charges.

“This opens the way now for both Christine and Stefan’s civil claims against not only the army, but all departments involved in their slandering,” Greeff told Netwerk24.

Anderson and Van Zyl were both in the Air Force at the time that a plane full of guests attending the Gupta wedding landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base.

Their defence was that they had received orders from a “higher authority” and were just doing their jobs.

According to Greeff, notice of the civil claims – which are expected to amount to millions – would be sent to the respective departments by Friday at the latest.

These include the departments of justice, police and the defence force, following a report by an interdepartmental committee of inquiry into the saga that found that Anderson and Bruce Koloane (who was at the time head of state protocol and is now the country’s ambassador to Belguim) “conspired to commit an offence”.

The case has been dragging on since April 2013.

The army insisted on pursuing the case against the two, even though its own prosecuting authority found that there was no prima facie case against the two.

“It is a good day. First, they should never have been prosecuted. Second, it is clear that the state realised that we would call witnesses up to the ministerial level if the case had gone to court,” said Greeff.

“Apart from that, the state realised that much more evidence of corruption would be revealed in court.”

Anderson retired at the end of September last year.

According to Greeff, an instruction had already been sent to the defence force to reappoint Van Zyl immediately to his post, without him being disadvantaged in any way.

Contacted for comment, the SA National Defence Force's spokesperson Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga – who is with soldiers helping flood victims in Mozambique – said his signal was too bad to speak.

- Additional reporting by Abram Mashego

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