Date set for Guptagate decision

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Copy of gupta plane

Independent Newspapers

The plane that flew the Gupta wedding party to the Waterkloof Air Force Base. File photo: Phill Magakoe

Johannesburg - SA National Defence Force (SANDF) officials implicated in the Guptagate scandal will know their fate by October 29, SA National Defence Union said on Saturday.

“The magistrate has to decide by October 29 if there would be a case to be heard and if so, what the charges are,” Sandu national secretary Pikkie Greeff said.

Four members of the SANDF, Colonel Nomsa Khumalo, Lt-Col Christo Van Zyl, Lt-Col Christine Anderson, and Warrant Officer Thabo Ntshisi Ä appeared in the military court, which is located inside the vast Thaba Tshwane military base in Pretoria and were charged with contravening different sections of the military defence code (MDC).

The charges relate to the landing of a private aircraft at the Waterkloof Air Force Base.

A chartered commercial aircraft, Jet Airways flight JAI 9900 from India, ferrying more than 200 guests for the wedding of Vega Gupta, 23, and Indian-born Aakash Jahajgarhia, landed at the base in April.

The passengers were then transported, either by light aircraft, helicopter or in police-escorted vehicles, to attend the lavish ceremony at Sun City's Palace of the Lost City in North West.

The landing sparked widespread criticism and several investigations were launched. A government investigation exonerated President Jacob Zuma and his ministers, and found that the landing was the result of “collusion by officials”.

Greeff explained the issue of the sworn affidavit that was leaked to the media. He said the filed affidavit would have nothing to do with prosecution should the case be heard.

“If there is a prosecution, the state would have to lead fresh evidence and not what was used during the inquiry,” he said.

Greeff said the State would also have serious problems in prosecuting the officials if Bruce Koloane was not called to testify.

Koloane was fingered as the person who orchestrated the landing and was subsequently demoted and served with a warning.

In her affidavit during the tribunal, Anderson, the woman accused in the government task team's report of colluding with Koloane to authorise the landing, said she was told by Koloane that Zuma had been aware of the plan and had personally enquired about progress before the wedding.

The statement was however refuted by the presidency on Thursday and called hearsay.

“While it would not be appropriate to discuss matters that are being addressed at the tribunal, we wish to state categorically that there is no truth to the allegation,” Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj said.

Greeff said he did not understand why Maharaj was being defensive.

“He wants the affidavit refuted, he can simply call a commission and call Anderson and Koloane to testify,” he said.

Agang SA applauded Anderson “for her courage in exposing the big man of South African politics as having leaned on her and her colleagues to throw away the rule book for the benefit of his friends.”

Public servants should not be used as scapegoats to absolve the politicians their abuse of power, Agang SA political director Moeketsi Mosola said in a statement.

“Not only did the actions of the commander in chief of our nation's armed forces, abuse his office and compromise our state security and sovereignty to indulge his friends, but he made our glorious young nation the laughing stock of other nations,” he said.

Sapa


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