Inquiry hears of Dirco official's shock at Gupta plane landing without approval
Johannesburg - A department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) official on Thursday revealed at the state capture inquiry his shock when he saw the Gupta-chartered aircraft landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base without the required permission.
Dirco’s senior foreign affairs assistant William Matjila told the commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that when the Jet Airways aircraft landed on April 30, 2013, they were still waiting for the note verbale, some form of diplomatic communication stating who was on the flight and what they would be doing in the country.
“On the day, when we were still waiting for the note verbale we saw the Gupta plane landing,” Matjila said.
According to Matjila, his job included dealing with presidents, deputy presidents and ministers travelling to South Africa and that they send requests to him through a note verbale.
Matjila said even the South African president is assisted by him when he is going abroad.
“The note verbale must specify who is coming, the purpose of the visit whether they were coming to meet the president or on a private visit,” he said.
Matjila said he just received a call from his superior at the time, former chief of state protocol Bruce Koloane, and forwarded the message to the SA Air Force’s command post Sergeant-Major Thabo Ntshisi, as his rank was at the time.
Koloane, Matjila continued, telephonically approved flight clearance and landing of the Indian delegation.
Matjila said he requested the note verbale in writing from Koloane’s personal assistant but instead was sent me an e-mail.
“Koloane never told me if there was a president or deputy president visiting the country. He just said I must assist Indian delegation,” he explained.