GUPTAS: Lieutenant Colonel Anderson has implicated the president under oath

2013-10-03 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has — for the first time directly and under oath — been implicated in Guptagate.

A key witness in the army’s probe of the Gupta family landing their wedding guests at Waterkloof air force base said Zuma and Bruce Koloane, the former head of state protocol, had a meeting in which Zuma wanted to know “if everything was on track for the flight”.

Lieutenant-Colonel Christine Anderson, second-in-command at the Water­kloof movement control centre, in her statement on the incident, has implicated Zuma under oath.

Anderson is one of five air force members who may be prosecuted because of the incident.

She confirmed for the first time that “Number One” refers to Zuma.

An earlier investigation by the Department of Justice showed that Koloane had said at least three times that he was executing the orders of “Number One”.

“Number One is the president of the republic of South Africa. For security reasons we never refer to the president in telephone conversations,” said Anderson.

The statement forms part of the military inquiry’s investigation of irregularities that led to the Gupta landing at a military air base on April 30.

Sister paper Beeld saw the documents yesterday, as the army’s preliminary investigation into the incident started.

It is the first time that all the evidence before the council has been made available to the media. The preliminary investigation must determine if there is sufficient evidence to militarily prosecute the officers who were involved in the debacle.

The investigation by the military legal division’s head office at the Swartkop air force base is closed to the public, but the possible court martials will be open to the public and media.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj yesterday said that Zuma and the presidency had not made any statements on the Gupta debacle or on the president’s possible knowledge of arrangements of the events and that the presidency maintains that the investigation must determine all the information.

The Justice investigation found that Koloane had lied on Zuma’s role. He has since admitted guilt in a departmental disciplinary hearing and has been demoted in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation.

The presidency stressed in the Justice probe that Zuma “at no stage” gave any orders to Koloane. The presidency denied that Zuma or his office had received any request for such a landing from anybody and that Koloane was guilty of name dropping. The initial investigation found that Koloane had abused Zuma’s name, but did not determine why he would have gone to such extremes.

Anderson said Koloane had called her one evening at the start of April to ask if Waterkloof would be suitable for the Guptas’ guests to land.

He said it was a “cultural affair”.

“He also said there would be two ministers on board and that Number One knows about the flight.”

She said she confirmed the plane would be able to land if it had the necessary clearances. A delegation of the Indian High Commission then inspected the facilities at the base. Shortly after the inspection, Koloane called her again.

“He informed me that he had returned from the president and that the president wanted to know ‘if everything is still on track for the flight’.

“I informed him that we were awaiting the overflight clearance and once this was received, we would be able to finalise the movement of the passengers.”

About 200 wedding guests of the Gupta family landed in a chartered Airbus at Waterkloof and were transported to Sun City.

In his evidence before the council, Lieutenant-General Jeremiah Mduduzi Nyembe, head of Defence Intelligence (previously Military Intelligence) yesterday said he had also advised Mike Ramagoma, the minister of Defence’s political adviser, “that allowing the Gupta flight to Waterkloof would have serious political implications. After that he informed me that the minister had decided not to allow the flight.”

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