The final day of submissions into the Gupta touchdown at Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof six years ago at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry produced a surprising turnaround with a former head of state protocol admitting he “name dropped” to speed up flight clearance requests to the base.
Bruce Koloane, currently South Africa’s ambassador to The Netherlands, continued testimony to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, having been on the stand the previous day. After listening to recordings of telephone conservations ahead of the Jet Airways flight, carrying a Gupta wedding party, he made what media have termed a ”startling turnaround”.
He testified that “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 officials, who were supposed to process the flight clearance, to do their job and do the processing”.
City Press reports him admitting it was abuse of his portfolio (at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation [DIRCO]) to allow the Guptas to land at the military air base in Centurion.
When Koloane was asked by the Commission chairman to respond to allegations set out by the DIRCO disciplinary committee he faced a month after the April 2013 landing, he pleaded guilty to charges relating to abuse of power in helping to facilitate the landing.
“I indicated that at no stage did the ministers of transport and defence or the president in any way communicate with me, either by themselves or through anyone in their office. But at no stage did I have control of diplomatic channels,” Koloane is reported by City Press as saying.
Zondo asked Koloane if he knew his responsibility to clear Zuma of allegations of his connection to the Waterkloof landing after Koloane admitted to name-dropping without reason.
“I should have written letters of apology to former president Zuma and the two ministers. This is something I may consider now, although it may be too late. I am too ashamed to apologise face to face,” Koloane said.
The commission is today (Wednesday) hearing testimony from a senior Transnet manager so indications are, currently, no further witnesses will be called in connection with the AFB Waterkloof landing.
A Zondo Commission media advisory has it that the Commission’s legal team is in the process of identifying and/or consulting with other witnesses who will be called to appear over the next few weeks.