Johannesburg - The business that ran the blue-light convoy for the Guptas doesn’t exist, and the police have been unable to explain their plan to prosecute it.
On Friday, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said the black BMWs were not police vehicles, but were owned by a private business.
“These vehicles were identified as hired from S&M Transportation in Pretoria. A criminal case has been registered against the owner for illegally using the emergency lights and fitting false registration plates,” Radebe said at the time.
But there is no such business registered, and the police have been unable to say who they are investigating.
SAPS headquarters ignored requests for an explanation.
The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) has confirmed that S&M Transportation does not exist.
“That’s precisely the reason the police are laying charges. The company apparently is not registered anywhere but is operating as a security company,” said GCIS acting chief Phumla Williams.
The system has been co-ordinating government responses on the scandal around the Gupta family’s unauthorised use of the Waterkloof Air Force Base and the illegal blue-light convoy from there to Sun City.
No business under the name of S&M Transportation is registered with the Private Security Regulatory Authority – a legal requirement for businesses involved in security work.
There are similarly named transport companies that are not believed to have been involved in supplying cars.
Reports that nine officers were arrested for their involvement in the escort from Waterkloof to Sun City were unconfirmed by the government on Sunday afternoon.
“I wouldn’t like to comment on rumours,” said Williams. “At this stage, they (the police) are not able to confirm numbers.”
Three military personnel, chief of state protocol Vusi Bruce Koloane and SAPS Major- General Phumzo Gela have been placed on compulsory leave.
The three military personnel took the fall for higher-ranking officials, according to Pikkie Greeff, spokesman for the SA National Defence Union.
Brigadier-General Leslie Lombard, Brigadier General Tebogo Samuel Madumane and movement control officer Lieutenant-Colonel Christine Anderson were placed on compulsory leave after an initial government investigation.
“The level at which they (the suspended military officers) are at is definitely not high enough for them to pull off this entire operation,” said Greeff.
They were being used as scapegoats to hide the fact that authority had indeed come from an executive level.
“This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, security breaches in the history of this country.”
Lombard was in charge of all air force bases in the country, but he would still not have had the authority to give landing clearance, Greeff said.
Madumane’s role was to manage personnel at the base, including firefighters and ground crew for incoming planes, while Anderson was essentially a VIP liaison, there to greet guests who landed at the military base.
“She does this under orders from her higher command structures. She has no executive powers of any nature,” said Greeff.
He also slammed the fact that the departments were investigating the incident themselves instead of leaving it to an independent inquiry.
Greeff promised that the union would give “maximum protection” to the suspended officers
A task team with directors-general from various departments has been appointed to investigate the incident.
DA defence spokesman David Maynier said the investigations and suspensions were nothing but “a carefully crafted damage-control exercise designed to protect President Jacob Zuma and members of his cabinet from the political fallout of Guptagate”.
Former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema slammed Zuma’s links with the Guptas. “We should all agree that President Zuma has sold South Africa over a plate of curry,” he said.
Members of the task team
* Dennis Dlomo, the director-general of the State Security Agency.
* Nonkululeko Sindane, DG of the Justice Department.
* Jerry Matjila, DG of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation.
* Mkuseli Apleni, DG of Home Affairs.
* Dr Sam Gulube, Secretary for Defence and Military Veterans.
* Oupa Magashula, a Sars commissioner.
* Riah Phiyega, national police commissioner.