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

2019-07-03 15:01
Former director general of justice and constitutional development Nonkululeko Sindane alongside Jeff Radebe at the JCPS Cluster Golf Day in 2013. (PHOTO: GCIS)

Former director general of justice and constitutional development Nonkululeko Sindane alongside Jeff Radebe at the JCPS Cluster Golf Day in 2013. (PHOTO: GCIS)

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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.

Since Waterkloof Air Force Base only receives official military aircraft and heads or deputy heads of state, as Sindane pointed out during her testimony, an investigation was conducted into how a commercial aircraft managed to land at the base without permission.

Sindane said the JCPS cluster interviewed everyone involved in the incident, including the Gupta family, ministers, high ranking officials and the deputy director general in the Presidency at the time.

'There were references to Number 1'

Former president Jacob Zuma was exonerated in this incident because, Sindane said, he was never directly implicated by anyone in their investigations. However, his name was used to get the permission needed. Bruce Koloane – the current ambassador to the Netherlands, but who was head of state protocol at the time in the Department of International Relations – was accused of name-dropping Zuma in order to get consent, in particular.

Sindane said, during the investigation, that Koloane denied that Zuma had instructed him.

"There were references to 'Number 1' and we say this was abuse because… for at least Ambassador Koloane, we interviewed him and he denied being instructed [by Zuma]," said Sindane.

She added that the investigation also found that junior officials had abused the powers of those above them.

"They were using the power of the office of the minister to say, 'The minister is okay, so this thing can happen', so that the junior officials can make it happen.

"We felt that was abusing the positions of power of these people that I have identified, in relation to the three ministers: (former minister of defence) [Nosiviwe] Mapisa-Nqakula, (former transport minister) Ben Martins and the [former] president."

'They manipulated the system'

Following the investigation, Koloane and Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson were implicated as responsible persons.

Sindane said: "We found that ambassador Koloane and Lieutenant Colonel Anderson, in facilitating this landing, ignored a whole range of things that they knew needed to exist before this landing was permissible".

"Would permission have been given if this was just a pure wedding. The answer is no, and they knew it… there was serious knowledge of what was going on," she said.

Sindane said Koloane knew the landing was not for official business, yet he still misrepresented the nature of the landing in order to get the proper authorisations.

"They really did more than what they were required to do to make sure this landing happened... almost going so far as ignoring the rules and protocols that are put there for these things to happen," she added.

In essence, Sindane said, they "manipulated the system".

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