'I did not ever give myself powers that I never had' - Koloane explains Gupta aircraft landing

2019-07-08 15:27
SA ambassador to the Netherlands, Bruce Koloane, who was chief of state protocol at the time of the Guptas' plane landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base. (Gallo Images)

SA ambassador to the Netherlands, Bruce Koloane, who was chief of state protocol at the time of the Guptas' plane landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base. (Gallo Images)

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Former chief of state protocol Bruce Koloane, who is now South Africa's ambassador to the Netherlands, told the state capture commission of inquiry he had no authority to approve the landing of the Gupta aircraft at Waterkloof air force base.

Instead, he only asked for correct procedures to be followed in approving the flight clearance.

The Gupta family landed a commercial aircraft at the base without permission in 2013. It carried about 200 guests who were invited to attend the family's lavish wedding at Sun City.

Testifying before inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Monday, Koloane said the first time he had learned about the request to land at the base was when he received a call from the Indian high commissioner. 

Koloane has become known as the "fall guy" in the Waterkloof landing saga.

The high commissioner complained he had filed an application for flight clearance, which takes three days on average, adding it took more than six days because there had been no response.

"That was the first time I heard about the visit," Koloane said.

"I was under the assumption that the Indian High Commission had submitted all the documents to Dirco [the Department of International Relations and Cooperation]."

ALSO READ: Facts were misrepresented to get approval, Zondo commission hears

Koloane said he had contacted his personal assistant and informed her about the call he had received from the Indian high commissioner and asked her to look into it.

He also called Major Thabo Ntshisi and asked him to assist in processing the application. 

"I then said to him: 'Please sir, can you help? Because the high commissioner is on my case. Can you please process this application?'" Koloane said.

"I only said process. I did not say issue." 

Koloane said at the time he had no documentation with him and was only dealing with the issue over the phone.

Ntshisi, among others, was named as one of the people responsible in the justice, crime prevention and security cluster report into the Waterkloof landing. 

"I did not ever give myself powers that I never had because I knew my limitations in terms of the statutes and there is no way I would have actually issued instructions to an official from another department."  

 Koloane also referred to an email his personal assistant had sent on his behalf regarding the flight clearance request.

The email "erroneously" stated that he had telephonically approved the request. 

"Obviously, I have no authority, chairperson. I think if you think about this, there are certain things that must be met to be able to issue a flight clearance.

"One of them is that you must be able to have access to civil aviation information, otherwise if anybody can just issue that, bodies would be flying from the sky because planes would be crashing. So, I don't have access to that," he said.

 Koloane added it was either a "misunderstanding" on his PA's side or his failure to explain it to her properly.

"All I want is to see this matter processed, which is my responsibility, to make sure it is processed. As to whether the answer is 'yes, we issue' or 'no', I will convey whatever answer comes," he said.

Read more on:    bruce koloane  |  gupta family  |  gupta wedding
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