The SA National Defence Union (Sandu) has had enough of the twists and turns performed by military prosecutors in the Guptagate hearing and has given a deadline of month-end to set a trial date or terminate prosecution.
As an example the military trade union’s national secretary Advocate Pikkie Greeff pointed out “a rather bizarre twist” to the saga.
“One of the accused has been offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for becoming the prosecution’s main witness against his former co-accused. No explanation has been offered as to why he, in particular, has been singled out, given the fact that all three officers face exactly the same charge of contravening an SA Air Force order.
“If anything, his previous evidence at other forums was full of contradictions and evidence of unseemly behaviour, not the least of which was that he was found to have attempted to solicit a job at DIRCO (Department of International Relations and Co-operation) during the Gupta landing debacle,” Greeff said.
Sandu is representing two of the SAAF officers charged following the unlawful landing of a chartered jet at AFB Waterkloof on April 30 last year. The Airbus A330 was bringing guests of the politically connected Gupta family to South Africa to attend a family wedding at Sun City.
Lieutenant colonels Christine Anderson and Christo van Zyl are still on special leave following a multi-department director general investigation into the incident which drew widespread condemnation from political parties across the spectrum, including the ruling ANC. The investigation exonerated President Jacob Zuma and his Cabinet Ministers and said the Waterkloof landing was the result of collusion by officials.
“Anderson and Van Zyl have been waiting months for a trial date. [In spite of] weekly enquiries by Sandu, which is representing them, and false undertakings of a date to be announced in mid-January, prosecutors have failed to provide either a trial date or a reasonable explanation for the unnecessary delay.
“It is clear the military prosecutors are, on one hand, desperately attempting to fabricate a case so as to wash the hands of their political masters and, on the other, unnecessarily delay the onset of the trial. This is because its outcome has the potential to politically embarrass President Zuma in an election year,” Greeff said.
The military trade union’s attempt to speed up justice for its members in this case has seen the military prosecuting authority “placed on terms via the attorneys of record”.
“If the members Sandu represents are not provided with a trial date by January 31, the accused will take legal action compelling commencement of trial within 30 days or the termination of prosecution and the immediate lifting of both officers’ suspension,” Greeff said.