Johannesburg - Bruce Koloane - the South African Ambassador to the Netherlands - has rebutted allegations that former president Jacob Zuma allowed the Guptas’ wedding guests to land at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in April 2013.
Koloane was reacting to allegations made at the Commission of Inquiry Into Allegations of State Capture headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
A senior official in the SANDF, Major Thabo Ntshisi, testified that Koloane had approached him on April2 2013, asking that he allow the Guptas to land their Jet Airways flight at the base as Zuma had given permission to do so.
Ntshisi said Koloane wanted his office to expedite the issuing of a landing clearance to the Guptas.
He said that seven days later, Koloane approached him again and told him that Zuma had instructed former transport minister Ben Martins to help the Guptas with the landing.
Ntshisi in his affidavit also said Koloane told him that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, did not have a problem with the landing.
Koloane denied all the allegations. He also denied claims that the Guptas did a pre-inspection at the base prior to them being allowed to land there.
While exonerating himself on all allegations against him, Koloane admitted that his former private assistant had written a letter to senior officials in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) as well as the defence force, saying that he had allowed the granting of a landing clearance to the Guptas.
He said he had given no such instructions to his former PA and that it was just a “misunderstanding” between them.
Koloane was one of the two witnesses billed to testify before Justice Zondo. South Africa’s Ambassador to the UN, Jerry Matjila, was the first to testify. He told the commission that he was the director-general of Dirco, but was not aware of the Guptas’ landing.
In his testimony, Matjila told the commission that he only became aware of it after the fact.
He said the landing, which attracted widespread attention, prompted a high-level intelligence investigation.
The commission heard that Matjila then contacted the then high commissioner of India - also a Mr Gupta - who denied that his government had anything to do with the landing.
According to Matjila, Dirco conducted its investigation and a decision was taken to charge Koloane - who was the departmental chief of state protocol - for the landing.
Koloane was initially charged on May 2 on the instruction of then International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
In less than two months, Koloane had pleaded guilty to all three charges against him.
“Ambassador Koloane was given two months suspension without pay. He was also given a final written warning which was valid for six months,” Matjila said.
Matjila said he had no role in the disciplinary process against Koloane, but had to implement the disciplinary outcome and sanction.