State capture: Bruce Koloane ignored rules to let Guptas land at Waterkloof

03 July 2019 - 15:18
Former director-general of the department of justice and constitutional development, Nonkululeko Sindane, appears at the state capture commission of inquiry on July 3 2019.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times Former director-general of the department of justice and constitutional development, Nonkululeko Sindane, appears at the state capture commission of inquiry on July 3 2019.

A senior government official went out of his way to ensure that the Gupta family were able to land a privately chartered plane at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013.

That official was Bruce Koloane, who was accused at the state capture commission on Wednesday as having ignored rules and regulations surrounding the use of the military base.

Koloane's involvement in the Waterkloof saga is among the findings of an investigating team of security cluster officials who were put in charge of probing the controversial landing of about 80 guests that the Guptas flew in to attend a family wedding at Sun City in April 2013.

Testifying at the commission on Wednesday, former director-general of the department of justice and constitutional development Nonkululeko Sindane - who was part of the investigating team - said Koloane ignored rules and regulations.

Sindane said the team was formed in May that year and comprised Zuma allies Thulani Dlomo from the State Security Agency and Tom Moyane, who was the national commissioner of correctional services at the time.

"Our mandate was to determine the sequence of events as to how we ended up where we did, prior to, during and after the landing; to assess the events in light of established legislation; interview relevant persons; and to make findings and recommendations," Sindane said.

But the team was given a little over a week to do the investigation.

"We had to understand how the Waterkloof Air Force Base works. That was the pre-arrival phase. If any person wants to apply to come to SA and apply to land at Waterkloof, what should they comply with? Waterkloof's responsibility was to receive aircrafts of heads of states, deputy heads of state, and defence top brass," she said.

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Sindane referred to recorded conversations in which Koloane was speaking to other officials about the flight. In them, he makes references to "Number One" - a common term which refers to the president.

"When we approached the director-general in the presidency [Cassius Lubisi at the time] we said one of the things that kept coming up is Number Oneā€¦ We wanted to know if he had any responsibilities in law or otherwise in the landing of the aircraft. That was the context of our question," Sindane said.

They did not ask if he had authorised the flight, although Koloane, in those recordings, had stated that the president and members of his cabinet had provided permission to do so.

"We found that Koloane, in facilitating this landing, ignored a whole range of things that he knew needed to exist before this landing was permissible... There was serious knowledge of what was going on.

"They [Koloane and others] did more than what they were required to do to ensure that this landing happened, almost going so far as ignoring the rules and the protocols put there for this thing to happen," she said.

However, according to Sindane, in an interview with the team Koloane denied that he was being instructed by former president Jacob Zuma.

"They [Koloane and others] were using the power of the office of the ministers to say this was okay. We felt that was abusing the positions of power of these people who have been identified," Sindane said.

In the investigative team's findings, Sindane said ministers cannot sanction the landing of a privately chartered aircrafts at the military base.

They also found that the Guptas did not have a Note Verbale - a letter from authorities of a foreign country requesting the department of international relations and cooperation to allow for a delegation to land in SA for official visits.

"We also found that not only was the aircraft that landed given permission to land but there were other supporting aircrafts, like fixed wing aircrafts and helicopters, that were allowed to land at the base," Sindane said.

"We did find that some of the actions of the Indian High Commission were consistent with the woolliness of how this trip was defined."

The commission will continue to hear evidence related to the Guptas' Waterkloof landing on Thursday.