AS IT HAPPENED: Report into Guptas' Waterkloof landing 'smells fishy and normally if it smells fishy, it is fish' - Koloane at #StateCaptureInquiry

2019-07-08 16:00

The judicial commission of inquiry into state capture has heard testimony from 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.

WATCH LIVE: State Capture Inquiry 

(Courtesy of SABC)

Bruce Koloane at the state capture commission of i

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Last Updated at 11:55
08 Jul 16:57
Proceedings are adjourned to allow Koloane and his legal team to listen to recordings which have been made available over the weekend, and to apply their minds to documents they might not have had.

08 Jul 16:51

08 Jul 16:42
Commission with Koloane discussing if he will have enough time to go through all the evidence and documents.

08 Jul 16:40

08 Jul 16:19

08 Jul 16:19

08 Jul 16:05

Koloane says he was not allowed to use state funds to legally defend himself, despite the fact that he was being interviewed in his capacity as the chief of state protocol. 

Koloane again claims that there were "factual inaccuracies" in the report.

08 Jul 16:05

Koloane says the JCPS report was already in the public domain by the time he was called in to give his account of events. "The manner in which the final report was compiled by the JCPS smells fishy, and normally if it smells fishy, it is fish," says Koloane.

Koloane says it raised concerns because nobody consulted with him.

08 Jul 15:53

Proceedings resume - it seems the issue was with some of the live streaming equipment, which is still being sorted out. 

Zondo has however directed that Koloane's testimony should continue.

08 Jul 15:43

'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. 

08 Jul 15:36

A short adjournment has been called, to allow technicians on site to sort out some issues with the recording equipment.

08 Jul 15:33

Koloane has taken the opportunity to raise some issues with the JCPS (Justice, Crime Prevention and Security) Cluster report on the landing in question at Waterkloof Air Force Base - he claims there are inaccuracies.

Former director general of justice and constitutional development, Nonkululeko Sindane, testified on the JCPS investigation into the Guptas' Waterkloof landing at the commission last week.

08 Jul 15:24

Zondo asks Koloane about the reference to someone called "Number One"... Koloane says he doubts he would have used that term.

Koloane's lawyer interjects.

08 Jul 15:18

Koloane tells the commission that he spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson on numerous occasions, and on one of the occasions, he told Anderson that "this particular high commissioner" was nagging him.

08 Jul 15:14

08 Jul 15:06

Proceedings resume after a two-hour adjournment. Advocate Norman continues leading Koloane's evidence.

08 Jul 13:05

Zondo says he will now call for the lunch adjournment, but because he has "urgent" commission matters to attend to, he will only resume proceedings at 15:00. 

Back at 15:00.

08 Jul 13:03

Koloane says he could not have approved the landing as he did not interact with the Civil Aviation Authority. 

Koloane, reading from the email in question, comes across an excerpt which says Koloane had "telephonically approved the request", which he again says he can only assume was a misunderstanding. Koloane insists he had only wanted the matter to be attended to.

08 Jul 12:57

Koloane makes reference to an email that his personal assistant had sent on his behalf, regarding the flight clearance request, which states that he had approved the request, which Koloane insists was an error and his PA may have misunderstood him, because he had no authority to do so and all he wanted was for the correct processes to followed and the matter to be handled properly. Koloane suggests that maybe he failed to explain things properly to his PA, and again insists that he himself did not write the email. 

Koloane makes reference to all the people that he had requested should be copied in on the email, and says this demonstrates that he wanted the matter to be handled properly. 

08 Jul 12:50

08 Jul 12:50

Koloane says he spoke to a warrant officer in the Department of Defence regarding the request.

08 Jul 12:48

08 Jul 12:41

Koloane: "...whilst DIRCO and the Presidency may agree to receive a particular head of state on a particular date, but the decision to land in Waterkloof will not reside with the president or the minister of DIRCO either, it will depend on the availability of Waterkloof and the only people who know about the availability, the size of the aircraft, etc, will be the people who are given that mandate constitutionally, which is the Department of Defence."

08 Jul 12:36

08 Jul 12:35

Koloane: "I received a call from the Indian high commissioner complaining that they had filed an application for flight clearance, which on average takes 2-3 days, because a few months earlier they had a state visit, but this has taken over six days" and that's why they wanted to find out what the delay was in the application. 

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

Koloane says he was told there were going to be "six or eight" ministers in the aircraft, hence the request. 

08 Jul 12:30

Koloane says he got the request for the landing when he received a call from Mr Gupta, the Indian high commissioner. They had applied for flight clearance at Waterkloof "six days ago", says Koloane.

High commissioner Gupta said the Indian president visited and got feedback on his request within three days. Koloane says he got the call to hurry the process along and get the clearance sorted, from high commissioner Gupta. 

"The initial note verbale doesn't come to me, it goes to the responsible DDG," says Koloane.

08 Jul 12:20

It's uncharted territory for the commission, as Koloane does not have a formal written statement that he will be sharing testimony from. Koloane will be answering questions put to him by Advocate Norman from the commission's legal team, and Zondo.

Zondo tells Koloane they want to "understand" what happened and what role everyone played in the landing of the plane carrying the Guptas' wedding party at Waterkloof Air Force Base.

08 Jul 12:17

08 Jul 12:13

Matjila concludes his testimony, and Zondo thanks him for his time and excuses him.

Bruce Koloane is expected to present his testimony next. 

Zondo calls a short adjournment while the legal team prepares for the next witness.

08 Jul 12:11

Matjila says a final written warning was also issued, which was placed in the employee's file and which remained valid for six months. These were the submissions that Matjila received from the DDG HR and which were implemented. 

08 Jul 12:10

Matjila: "So the charges, I want to presume, were read to ambassador Koloane, he went to see them and on the 27th of May, ambassador Koloane was served with notice of disciplinary hearing, and he acknowledged receipt thereof. And then there were three charges that were laid."

Matjila: "After the processes by both, I think they met for the hearing on the 11th, and by 2 July, then the employee - in this case ambassador Koloane - pleaded guilty to the charges."

Matjila: "And again, the parties were given ample opportunity to present mitigating factors before the chairperson could issue the sanctions. I think thereafter, on the 29th of July, the sanctions were issued, and pronounced - suspension without pay, for a period of two months, as an alternative for dismissal in terms of clause 2.7(4)...of the handbook." 

08 Jul 11:58

Matjila says Koloane was implicated during the disciplinary hearing and his suspension was instituted by the DDG of HR.

08 Jul 11:53

Matjila says he told the DDG of HR at the time to please "trigger" disciplinary processes, as he wanted to give colleagues the opportunity to appear before a panel, and to respond. This included Bruce Koloane.

Matjila says they were guided by the prescripts of the Public Service Act.

08 Jul 11:48

Back from the break, Advocate Norman continues leading Matjila's evidence.

08 Jul 11:28

Zondo calls for the morning adjournment. Back in 15 minutes.

08 Jul 11:28

08 Jul 11:27

Matjila says they were concerned when some of the Indian "state ministers" chartered a plane to Cape Town, without officially informing the correct channels of their movements. 

Matjila now says that some may have also flown to the Free State to meet their government counterparts - MECs - in that province, but there was no official documentation to ascertain this.

For all intents and purposes, Matjila says the people travelling on the plane that landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base were travelling privately.

There was no communication with DIRCO (Department of International Relations and Cooperation) after the guests had left the wedding party, says Matjila.

08 Jul 11:20

08 Jul 11:19

08 Jul 11:15

Matjila says he made contact with the Indian high commissioner at the time, another Mr Gupta, who was of no relation to the Gupta family which had flown to South Africa. 

Matjila says he wished to establish whether or not there were Indian ministers of state on the flight, and Matjila says Mr Gupta told him no, they were not national ministers - they were something more akin to MECs locally. This distinction was important to establish whether a note verbale should have been issued, and also when it should have been issued.

08 Jul 11:12

08 Jul 11:11

Matjila again says he only heard of the Guptas' landing at Waterkloof, "post-arrival". 

Matjila now describes meetings that were called after the landing had taken place, and Matjila says Bruce Koloane was also invited to these meetings.

08 Jul 11:03

08 Jul 11:03

08 Jul 11:02

Zondo quizzes Matjila further about the note verbale (diplomatic correspondence between countries). Matjila says the first note verbale usually goes through the bilateral desk. The second note verbale could be about the landing rights, type of aircraft and flight routes, and the information could be sensitive and subject to a high level of security.

08 Jul 10:58

08 Jul 10:55

08 Jul 10:54

Advocate Norman now directs Matjila's testimony to the Jet Airways plane landing at Waterkloof, carrying the Guptas' wedding party. 

08 Jul 10:52

Matjila says it is normal for larger planes to land at OR Tambo International Airport, and arrangements are made to properly welcome the foreign guests. He makes an example of former US president Barack Obama landing in Cape Town.

Matjila says it is easier for them to use an air force base like Waterkloof, because it is "exclusive". If arrangements are made for a plane to land at a commercial airport, then the department has to make arrangements with ACSA, as well as other security arrangements.

08 Jul 10:46

Matjila goes through some of the protocols that need to be followed, in particular, the process that needs to be followed when there is a request for permission from foreign visitors to land in SA. The mission in SA would send a "note verbale" with the request and details of the purpose of the visit, says Matjila.

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