The SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) weekend call for “media not to pressurise officers of the military court in the hope of influencing the outcome” of the Guptagate hearings currently underway appears to have fallen on deaf ears as far as the official Parliamentary opposition is concerned.
A statement issued by DA shadow defence and military veterans minister David Maynier casts doubt on an answer to a parliamentary question by Minister in the Presidency, Collins Chabane. This is likely to fuel more questions about the now infamous unauthorised landing of a chartered jet at AFB Waterkloof in April carrying guests of the politically connected Gupta family en route to a wedding at Sun City.
“Chabane effectively admitted President Zuma knew more about Guptagate in a highly suspect reply to a question submitted in Parliament. He zig-zagged his way around replying to whether the President and others had ‘any communication about any aspect of the Gupta family wedding’.
“The Minister’s reply was a monstrous obfuscation designed to hide the facts about Zuma’s role in Guptagate. It clearly implies there was official communication from him on the landing and that there was unofficial communication with the President on Guptagate.
“We cannot sit back and allow officials to be hung out to dry and take the blame. We have to get to the bottom of the role played by the President and members of his Cabinet in Guptagate,” Maynier said.
He has submitted a request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act for a copy of the final report of the SANDF board of inquiry and will be doing for same for copies of all submissions and interview transcripts conducted during the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster investigation into the landing of the Airbus A330 jet at the Centurion air force base.
In another weekend development around Guptagate, City Press reported that Brigadier General Les Lombard, Officer Commanding the Air Force Command Post, wrote an e-mail to SA Air Force (SAAF) Chief, Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang, a day after the chartered jet landed. He asked for “guidance on whether further flights by civilian helicopters from AFB Waterkloof to Pilanesberg where the delegation is to meet Number One” was approved based on initial interaction with former chief of state protocol officer, Bruce Koloane.
The Sunday paper also reported the board of inquiry wants the Department of Defence to lodge a formal complaint against Koloane for “misleading” SAAF officers to authorise the landing.
FF+ defence spokesman Pieter Groenewald maintains “the one person” who can provide answers about the President’s involvement in Guptagate is Koloane.
“He should undergo a lie detector test,” he said adding it was “significant” that Koloane was only demoted and not dismissed for his apparent role in the landing.
“The question is: is he is merely being ‘sacrificed’ for Zuma and will be richly rewarded for it at a later stage. According to the latest witnesses, Koloane gave false testimony to allow the landing to take place. This is fraud and Koloane should be charged because he caused a military air force base, which is a security point, to experience a security breach.”
Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, SANDF director: corporate communications, has requested “all concerned not to use the media to pressurise the officers of the court in the hope of influencing the outcome of the case”.
Hearings were held last week and are believed to be underway again in Thaba Tshwane on whether or not to charge five SAAF officers in terms of the Military Disciplinary Code for their alleged roles in the April 30 landing at the air force base.