AS IT HAPPENED: Koloane promises to apologise to Zuma, ministers in writing, after Waterkloof landing audio recordings are played at #StateCaptureInquiry

2019-07-09 13:30

SA ambassador to the Netherlands, Bruce Koloane, has wrapped up his testimony at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, related to the Guptas' plane landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base.

WATCH LIVE: State Capture Inquiry 

(Courtesy of SABC)

Bruce Koloane at the state capture commission of i

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Last Updated at 02:04
09 Jul 13:53

Zondo now thanks Koloane for his time, and testimony, and in response to a question from Koloane, Zondo confirms that Koloane can fly out and return to his mission in the Netherlands. 

He would, however, be recalled to the commission, should the need arise. 

Norman tells Zondo that there are no more witnesses for the day, but they would like to keep the Waterkloof landing issue open, and would like to meet with Zondo in chambers about the way forward. 

Zondo agrees, and says he would also like to have Ntshisi at the commission again for follow up testimony/questions. He also expresses an interest in getting Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson to testify, but Norman informs him that Anderson is now based in Botswana. 

And with that, Zondo adjourns proceedings for the day. 

09 Jul 13:49

Advocate Norman and Zondo just clear up a few more issues with Koloane, before he is excused.

09 Jul 13:46

09 Jul 13:33

09 Jul 13:27

09 Jul 13:25

Zondo asks Koloane if he realised that he had a responsibility at the time to clear up issues around Zuma's name being connected to the Waterkloof landings, if he is now admitting to name-dropping with no reason. 

Koloane says he didn't trust the media enough to come forward and clear up matters - there were reports of his alleged ties to the Guptas, saying the Guptas had bought him property in Mauritius, which he says is untrue.

Koloane tells Zondo he will send written apologies to those who he name-dropped in error, but still dodges the essence of Zondo's statement put to him.

Koloane says he never said those things in a public forum. The information was leaked from private hearings.

09 Jul 13:14

Koloane says in hindsight, he should have written letters of apology to former president Jacob Zuma and the two ministers. Koloane says this is something he may consider now, although it may be too late. He says he is too ashamed to offer apologies face to face. 

09 Jul 13:12

Norman asks Zondo about the lunch adjournment, and Zondo says they might as well push through with Koloane's testimony and attempt to finish his evidence before adjourning.

09 Jul 13:12

09 Jul 13:10

Three more recordings are played - one between Ntshisi and the Indian representative, and then between Ntshisi and Koloane, followed by another recording of a call between a General Lombard and Ntshisi. 

There is another recording played of a call between Ntshisi and someone named "Sarah", which seems to be less formal in nature, when the call takes a "personal" turn, Zondo cuts it short. "We have heard the relevant part," says Zondo.

09 Jul 12:59

Another recording of a follow-up call between Ntshisi and Koloane is then played, following Ntshisi's interaction with Anderson.

09 Jul 12:58

A recording of a call between Ntshisi and Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson is also played, in which Anderson says that the ambassador called her, and she asks Ntshisi how he could say no to the ambassador. Ntshisi clarifies with Anderson what exactly is transpiring...

Anderson: The chief of state protocol, he said you said no to him. 

Ntshisi: No, I said to them we want to confirm who is the senior person involved. 

Anderson: It's a minister. 

Ntshisi: Yes, they said it's a minister. So will you please have something written down so that we can convey to you, to Waterkloof, that you can allow the minister to land at Waterkloof. 

Anderson: OK, so you want something from them? 

Ntshisi: Yes, but now I understand that you spoke to the ambassador...

Anderson: Yes, ambassador Koloane... 

Ntshisi: Yes, he said to me that you had a meeting before? 

Anderson: Yes

Ntshisi: So are they allowed to land there, ma'am, or not? 

Anderson: Yes my dear, they are...

Some more exchanges, and then Anderson emphasises something to Ntshisi: Let me say something to you, in confidentiality, he's now just mentioned this... this is, I must be very careful... this is, our Number One knows about this...

Ntshisi: Yes, he explained that to me ma'am

Anderson: OK, so, it's political... 

Anderson then says to Ntshisi that she thinks he can allow them (the flight clearance request).

09 Jul 12:39

Back from the break, the first recording is played, which is a conversation between Koloane and Major Ntshisi, who was a warrant officer at the time.

09 Jul 12:31

Norman now addresses Zondo on the issue of the recordings, and requests that the commission plays a five-minute long snippet of the recording. 

Norman: "I think we've dealt with the questions on the matters that we wish to raise with the witness, but there's one remaining issue - the audio transcript has not yet formed part of the evidence before you. And we were hoping that we would ask for leave to play a five-minute audio, which relates to ambassador Koloane, because the other 22 minutes, there is certain conversations there... but we could listen to both."

Norman says the bulk of what is contained in the second audio recording relates to Major Ntshisi.

Zondo allows the legal team to play the short recording, but calls for a five-minute adjournment to allow the technicians to prepare the recording so that everyone present can hear it clearly.

09 Jul 12:10

Koloane says he had already forgotten about the plane by the time it had eventually landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base. 

09 Jul 12:08

Advocate Norman asks Koloane if he attended the Gupta wedding. 

Koloane: "No, I did not."

Norman: "Were you invited?"

Koloane: "Yes, I was."

09 Jul 12:03

Zondo asks Koloane why, after he had sent through his request, he couldn't just leave it at that and tell whoever was putting pressure on him to get it done, that he had done his part and the request would be processed once it went through all the correct channels. 

Koloane: "To answer the first part, there was nothing in it for me at all. Two, why did I push? I indicated when I started my testimony that one of my core responsibilities was servicing strategic bilateral relations with all the diplomatic missions in South Africa. And India being one of the strategic countries...we are part of BRICS together..."

Koloane: "I figured in interest to appease him, and besides, we had also built a personal relationship over time because I was interacting with all the ambassadors, whether on their national days, or sometimes just for lunches and things like that, so that really was fundamentally the reason why I wanted to, I think to appear to him to be the most effective guy who can make things happen. And again, I admit without any reservations that it was a wrongful act on my side."

09 Jul 11:49

Proceedings resume after the break. Zondo still seeks further clarity from Koloane on what transpired at his disciplinary inquiry. Koloane confirms to Zondo that he had admitted in the disciplinary hearing that it was wrong of him to use those names.

Advocate Norman now directs Koloane's testimony to evidence indicating that on the same day the call was made, the flight clearance was issued.

09 Jul 11:32

Zondo calls for the short morning adjournment. 

09 Jul 11:31

Zondo brings the questioning closer to what transpired yesterday at the commission, and asks Koloane how he could have forgotten that he had indeed used these names wrongly or falsely. 

Koloane: "First of all, I can only say I'm human, like everybody else is. There are certain things that are pleasant memories that you want to linger on for the rest of your life, and there are some that you want to forget and close the door on them and never ever get back to them in your life." 

Koloane: "So, I have gone through that process in my life, of the latter, and there are many things related particularly to that whole process. My family, everything that happened to me, my family in particular, my children in particular, that I would like to completely forget. So we tried to find, to go through therapy for me and my wife and my children in particular, to try and forget about some of these things. 

Koloane: "So I think maybe it's just the refusal of the memory bank to deal with some of these realities because they do not bring anything but unnecessary pain to me, my wife and my children..."

09 Jul 11:22

Zondo asks Koloane if he ever apologised to the ministers for name-dropping them and implicating them in the approval of the Waterkloof landing. Koloane says he was too ashamed to face anyone.

09 Jul 11:15

Zondo asks Koloane if he accepts that if he said, "this is what they said, when they never said that to you, and you knew that they never said that, then what you did by using their (the president, defence minister and transport minister) names was very, very serious"? 

Koloane responds: "I will agree that it was wrong of me to use their names. Not only because I just used their names to put pressure on the officials to do what they were supposed to do, which is the processing of the flight clearance, but also it potentially can taint the reputation and the image of the three that you have just mentioned."

"And it's something that I do take seriously, and that's why I admitted responsibility for my actions in that regard," says Koloane. "And yes, it is a serious thing, like you said, for anyone to use anybody's name out of context."

09 Jul 11:01

Zondo asks Koloane if he abused diplomatic channels to facilitate the landing, and Koloane says no, he abused the power of his office.

Koloane: "I do accept that it's a clear abuse, in hindsight, no not in hindsight... it's a clear abuse of my portfolio as the chief of protocol, to have put pressure on the expedite the processing of the flight clearance, particularly given that I have not myself verified, even with him, whether all the administrative requirements have been met."

Koloane: "And also in the context of what I just said, although there was no documented evidence, but I had the intuition that there was something that one could look at in terms of one of the members of the Gupta family, or business members, being part of the team that went for the inspection. I should have already sensed there was something here, untoward, and communicated that to my counterpart in defence..."

09 Jul 10:58

Zondo asks Koloane if he admitted to the first charge on the records of his disciplinary inquiry, which says "the employee abused diplomatic channels and took it upon himself to facilitate an illegal request for landing of an international aircraft at the Air Force Base Waterkloof on the 30th April 2013..." 

Koloane starts off his response again by saying he doesn't recollect too clearly because it was so long ago, but he had "certain issues with the language and the manner in which the charge itself was phrased". Koloane took issue with the wording of "illegal request" in particular, saying he facilitated a request for landing, and not an illegal request.

09 Jul 10:47

Koloane reads out the charges against him, from the disciplinary hearing where he admitted to a number of things, including name-dropping. 

Koloane's lawyer interjects and objects to Norman's line of questioning.

Koloane's lawyer, Advocate Don Mahon, says the question by Norman is "unfair" as she expects him to recall something that happened a long time ago, and should rather ask in the context of what happened at the hearing.

09 Jul 10:45

Advocate Thandi Norman, leading Koloane's evidence, challenges Koloane and says that if the commission had not been furnished with the (classified) audio recordings, his insistence about "factual inaccuracies" in the JCPS report, on the investigation into the Waterkloof landing, would have been sustained.

Koloane has somewhat changed his tune with regards to some of his testimony from yesterday.

09 Jul 10:39

09 Jul 10:34

Koloane: "The only time, and as I indicated where I had interaction with the minister, Ben Martins, was at the meeting which I made reference to, which was at OR Tambo (airport), where he wanted to solicit our advice together with that of the CEO of ACSA, where we advised that it will not be prudent for the plane to land there, for the reasons which I've already explained."

"But he even in that meeting, did not," says Koloane, "I want to repeat, he did not say that he was given any orders to assist the Guptas."

"That was just a thought from my side, which I take full responsibility for," says Koloane. "And again I want to stress that it was fundamentally to put - if I may used the word - to put pressure on the officials to expedite the process of processing the flight clearance request..."

09 Jul 10:33

Koloane says the audio recordings in evidence which he has listened to have "helped to refresh" his memory on things that happened long ago. 

Koloane: "Having listened also to the recording, I would like to admit that indeed I did, what has now become popularly known as 'name-dropping' and used those sentences merely to push the officials who were supposed to process the flight clearance to do their job, to do the processing."

Koloane: "I also want to go on record, Mr Chair, that that was fundamentally nothing but name-dropping, as it is popularly known nowadays. But that the Minister of Transport, nor the Minister of Defence, nor the president did not at any stage communicate to me that I should in any way deal with this matter, as it is expressed." 

09 Jul 10:17

Zondo now seeks further clarity from Koloane about the process for approving requests for flight clearance, and suggests perhaps there was an error in communication, which may have led to the mistake, or "misunderstanding".

09 Jul 10:07

Proceedings resume. Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is currently addressing Bruce Koloane, asking for clarity about the email Koloane's personal assistant sent, which may have led to the "misunderstanding" about the request for flight clearance at Waterkloof Air Force Base. 

09 Jul 10:00


Report into Gupta Waterkloof landing 'smells fishy' - Bruce Koloane tells Zondo commission 

Former chief of state protocol Bruce Koloane says the final report into the Gupta Waterkloof landing in 2013 "smells fishy".

Koloane, who is now the South African ambassador to the Netherlands, was testifying at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday.

The justice, crime prevention and security (JCPS) cluster investigated the landing after 200 guests of the Gupta family landed at the air force base in a commercial aircraft to attend the family's lavish wedding in Sun City.

"I want to go on record that the manner in which the final report was compiled by the JCPS smells fishy, and normally if it smells fishy, it is fish," Koloane told inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. 

09 Jul 10:00


Former Dirco DG tells state capture inquiry he was unaware of Gupta aircraft landing 

Former department of international relations and cooperation director-general Jerry Matjila says he became aware of the Gupta Waterkloof air for base landing only after the family's plane had touched down in April 2013. 

Matjila, who is now the South African Ambassador to the United Nations, was testifying before the commission of inquiry into state capture headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. 

He told the commission he was unaware of the landing and no formal diplomatic engagements were concluded prior to the landing. 

He added he had contacted the Indian high commissioner, a Mr Gupta who is not related to the Gupta family, in a bid to establish whether or not there were Indian ministers on board the flight. 

09 Jul 10:00


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

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. 

09 Jul 10:00


Waterkloof landing: Promotion was always on the cards for Ntshisi despite security breach 

The chief of South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang told the commission of inquiry into state capture on Thursday that despite Major Thabo Ntshisi being implicated in the infamous Gupta Waterkloof landing, he was always going to be promoted.

Ntshisi, among others, was named as one of the people responsible in the justice, crime prevention and security (JCPS) cluster report into the 2013 Gupta Waterkloof landing. The breach saw a commercial aircraft landing at the Waterkloof military base.

It carried more than 200 guests who attended the infamous Gupta wedding in Sun City. Only VIPs and VVIPs are allowed to land at the base.

09 Jul 10:00


Waterkloof landing: Officials should have said 'no, this is not on' - top official 

While witnesses at the state capture inquiry have been flip-flopping around whether they received a proper, or any, note-verbale, which would have seemingly allowed the Guptas to land their commercial aircraft at Waterkloof military base, a senior department official has thrown this argument out the window.

Lieutenant General Derrick Mbuyiselo Mgwebi, who is the acting director general of the military veterans department, was the president of the justice, crime prevention and security board of inquiry into the 2013 Gupta Waterkloof landing. The aircraft had carried about 200 guests who attended the infamous Gupta wedding at Sun City.  

Testifying on Thursday about the processes that should have been followed in granting clearance for the aircraft, Mgwebi pointed out that Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson, South African Ambassador to the Netherlands Bruce Koloane who was the former head of state protocol during the landing, and Major Thabo Ntshisi should have acted before the plane even landed.

09 Jul 10:00


Direct order from state protocol chief prompted Gupta's Waterkloof landing, Zondo commission hears 

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation's senior foreign affairs assistant, William Matjila, has told the commission of inquiry into state capture that he started realising that there were irregularities in the Gupta's Waterkloof landing of 2013 when he did not receive the required note verbale - or diplomatic correspondence.

Matjila, who testified on Thursday morning at the inquiry, said he was asked to process a request from "the Indian delegation" - understood to be the Indian High Commission - and went ahead with the request after receiving "confirmation" from then-chief of state protocol Bruce Koloane.

Koloane was the only person who faced repercussions for his role in allowing the landing, despite the justice, crime prevention and security (JCPS) cluster investigation implicating a range of people. He was later made ambassador to the Netherlands, a position he still holds.

09 Jul 10:00


Gupta wedding: 'I was not satisfied with the clearance for the Waterkloof landing' - Major Thabo Ntshisi 

Only three people are allowed to land an aircraft at Waterkloof military base - the president, deputy president or any person who is sent by the president on government duty.

This is according to Major Thabo Ntshisi who works at the military base's command post.

Ntshisi was testifying before the commission of inquiry into state capture about the controversial 2013 Gupta Waterkloof landing.

The incident saw commercial aircraft, chartered by the Guptas, landing at the base. They were filled with about 200 guests who attended a lavish wedding at Sun City in the North West. 

09 Jul 10:00


They 'manipulated the system' to make it happen - former justice DG on Guptas' Waterkloof landing 

Nonkululeko Sindane, former director general of justice and constitutional development, and the person who chaired the justice, crime prevention and security cluster (JCPS) investigation into the Guptas' Waterkloof landing, has detailed what the probe looked into and who was found responsible, at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture.

Sindane was testifying on Wednesday morning. The commission started hearing testimony on Tuesday relating to the controversial landing.

In 2013, the Gupta family landed a commercial aircraft at the Waterkloof Air Force Base. The planes carried about 200 guests who were to attend an extravagant wedding at Sun City.

09 Jul 10:00


I did not give anyone instructions to allow Gupta wedding landing - former transport minister 

The former transport minister, Ben Martins, has told the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture that at, at no stage, did he give anyone instructions to allow the Guptas' aircraft to land at Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013.

"The Ministry of Transport ... does not have authority over Waterkloof air base. It falls under the Department of Defence and Military Veterans," he told inquiry chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, during his testimony on Tuesday.

In 2013, a private plane carrying about 200 guests to the wedding of Vega Gupta and Aakash Jahajgarhia was allowed to land at Waterkloof Air Force Base, and blue light brigades whisked the guests off to Sun City.

Several ministers and political figures attended the wedding.

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