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Guptagate: Zuma not off the hook... yet

The Jet Airways Airbus A330-200 that brought the Gupta family members and guests to Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013. File photo: Phill Magakoe

The Jet Airways Airbus A330-200 that brought the Gupta family members and guests to Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013. File photo: Phill Magakoe

Published Jan 21, 2015

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Cape Town - The Guptagate saga is not yet over following Tuesday’s withdrawal of all charges against two of the four military officers, as civil court action is still set to get under way this week.

And as part of these legal proceedings, SMSes which include the name of President Jacob Zuma are to feature as “proof” that Bruce Koloane, at the time chief of state protocol, acted as the president’s “agent”, Beeld reported.

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The Afrikaans daily newspaper has reported SMSes were sent to Lieutenant-Colonel Christine Anderson by Koloane – who was demoted and remains the only person against whom action was taken over the May 2013 Guptagate saga, the landing at the military Waterkloof Air Force Base of some 200 guests attending the private wedding of the Gupta family.

On Tuesday South African National Defence Union’s (Sandu) Pikkie Greeff confirmed civil proceedings would be instituted by Anderson and Lieutenant-Colonel Stephan van Zyl, against whom charges were also withdrawn.

“Sandu confirms that both officers have already provided instructions to the Sandu legal team to immediately institute civil lawsuits against all the state organs which were involved in implicating them,” he said.

Zuma’s name has been linked to the Guptagate saga from the get-go. In October 2013 during the military tribunal of the four officers it emerged Koloane had said that “Number One” wanted to know whether everything was still on track.

This was dismissed by the presidency at the time. Two months later, in November 2013, during a National Assembly presidential question time slot, Zuma told MPs he knew nothing about the private plane’s landing.

“There are so many, thousands of people, who land at airports in this country… The president knows nothing about those people… I have given the answer: I have no knowledge, I know nothing about it. I can’t answer on behalf of an official in a military tribunal,” Zuma said in response to a follow-up question from then DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko

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On Tuesday Freedom Front Plus MP and defence spokesman, Pieter Groenewald, said the Guptas and defence should pick up all legal costs.

“The withdrawal of charges is proof that the defence force had accused innocent officers to protect the real culprits and to cover up President Zuma’s true involvement. The cover-up was reprehensible and shows that everything will be done to protect President Zuma’s abuse of power,” Groenewald said.

DA MP David Maynier welcomed the withdrawal of charges against Anderson and Van Zyl.

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“In the end, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, was responsible and should have been fired for the ‘Guptagate’ fiasco,” Maynier added.

The status of charges against two others, Colonel Nomsa Khumalo and Warrant Officer Thabo Ntshisi, remained unclear yesterday.

Meanwhile, defence departmental spokesman, Siphiwe Dlamini, this morning confirmed the charges had been dropped, but did not elaborate on the reasons.

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“We are now in the mood of getting a full report from the directorate of military prosecutions. Until that time (that) it is handed over, it is difficult to comment,” he told SaFM.

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj declined to comment on the matter saying he had yet to read the Department of Defence’s decision.

Political Bureau

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