The 2013 landing of a Gupta-chartered jet aircraft at AFB Waterkloof is still under the spotlight of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture with denial reportedly the order of the day on Monday.
Bruce Koloane, currently South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands and head of protocol at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO), in 2013 when the Jet Airways aircraft touched down at the military base, told Judge Raymond Zondo of “serious issues and inaccuracies” in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cabinet cluster’s report according to Johannesburg daily The Citizen.
The paper quotes him as telling the Commission, which yesterday heard its 128th day of testimony, “I want to go on record the manner in which the JCPS report was compiled smells fishy and if it smells fishy it is fishy”.
Digital daily The Times has it that Koloane was at the centre of allegations by various Zondo commission witnesses who alleged pressure was brought to bear by then then protocol chief to approve the landing without following proper processes.
Koloane told the commission he was told a ministerial delegation from India was arriving in South Africa and had requested permission to land at the air force base.
“I came to know about the request for the landing when former Indian High Commissioner Virendra Gupta (no relation to the Gupta family) called me and informed me they had applied for a flight clearance for landing at Waterkloof. It had been six days and they had not received a response. He told me it was for a ministerial delegation,” Koloane said.
“The first thing I did was to call my PA. I said to her that I just got a call from the Indian High Commission who was complaining. I told her can you please follow up with our official who deals with these issues. I was under the assumption the Indian High Commission had submitted all the documents to DIRCO.”
“She (Koloane’s personal assistant) called me and said DIRCO doesn’t know anything because the Indian High Commission haven’t sent anything. I called the High Commission and they said they sent it to the Department of Defence. I then asked to be given the number and the name of who they sent it to so I could then call,” Koloane told the Commission.
This led him to the SA Air Force (SAAF) Command Post where then Sergeant Major Thabo Ntshisi was stationed. He, now a major, told the commission last week Koloane pressured him to allow the aircraft to land.
“I had no sight of any documentation. I think he said something to the effect there was no note verbale attached. All I remember saying if there is an issue with the application, revert back to the High Commission. Mine was to say to him please can you expedite processing the flight clearance application you received from the High Commission,” according to The Times.
He dismissed an apparent email from his personal assistant, sent to “various senior officials” as a misunderstanding on her part or my failure to explain it properly”.
Koloane is scheduled to continue giving evidence on Tuesday.