Guptagate moves to Military Court


Four months after major violations of airspace and base standing regulations at AFB Waterkloof, the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) extended investigations into Guptagate are set to resume on the 13th of this month.

A brief statement issued by SANDF corporate communications director, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said three members have been charged on the recommendation of an internal board of inquiry.
“They appeared before the Military Court on August 30. The case was postponed to September 13. Two more members will still be charged and appear in court.”

The Military Court appearance follows the board of inquiry, headed up by SANDF Joint Operations Chief, Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi. This was in addition to the task team, made up of director-generals from various government departments, which investigated the landing of an Airbus A330 at the Centurion air force base on April 30 carrying guests bound for a Gupta family wedding at Sun City.

One of the SA Air Force (SAAF) members put on “special leave” while the board of inquiry was underway is Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson. She has laid a complaint with Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, about the incident and Afrikaans daily Beeld today reports SANDF Commander-in-Chief, President Jacob Zuma, will be called as a witness when the case resumes.
“His name must appear on the witness list,” SA National Defence Union (Sandu) national secretary Pikkie Greeff said. The military trade union has taken up cudgels on Anderson’s behalf in her battle to clear her name and be re-instated.
“She was the only SAAF officer initially held responsible for the debacle. Sandu and her defence team will not rest until Zuma appears in the Military Court. If needs we will go to the High Court to ensure his appearance,” Greeff said.
“The case cannot go ahead if the defence is not allowed to call witnesses it knows are material to the hearing.”

Mabanga’s statement gave no names of the two other SAAF members who appeared at the first Military Court hearing. They could have been Air Force Command Post Officer commanding, Brigadier General Les Lombard, and a sergeant major whose name is only given as Ntshisi.

Brigadier General TS Madumane, Officer Commanding the Waterkloof base, was also put on special leave following Guptagate but his name has not been mentioned in any subsequent statements from the SANDF.

Mabanga would not name the two other SAAF members who are set to appear in court on September 13 but told the newspaper they had been informed they will be charged.

Ambassador Bruce Koloane, former Chief of State Protocol at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, was also named in the director-generals task team as being involved in Guptagate. An internal investigation by that department has seen him demoted.