State capture: More evidence of Bruce Koloane's role in Gupta's Waterkloof landing

04 July 2019 - 12:50 By AMIL UMRAW
Bruce Koloane, former chief of state protocol, at the state capture inquiry in Parktown, Johannesburg, on July 3 2019.
Bruce Koloane, former chief of state protocol, at the state capture inquiry in Parktown, Johannesburg, on July 3 2019.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times

The state did not follow normal processes when it allowed the Gupta family to land a privately chartered airline at the restricted Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013.

This according to the evidence of department of international relations and cooperation senior foreign affairs assistant William Matjila, who testified at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Thursday.

Matjila, who normally handles the flight arrangements, transport and accommodation for foreign delegations, said he received no formal request for the Gupta family to land about 80 guests who attended their lavish Sun City wedding that year.

Instead, he alleges that the state capture-implicated former head of state protocol Bruce Koloane asked him to approve the landing of the Guptas' flight.

"Seeing that [Koloane] is senior to me, he is actually used to receiving a Note Verbale and then he will then hand it over to me to process the clearance. In the Note Verbale, they must specify who is coming to visit, what that person is coming to do in SA and the purpose of that visit," Matjila told the commission, through a translator.

A Note Verbale is a formal letter of permission for a foreign delegation to land in SA on official visits.

"If the Note Verbale states that the president of another country is coming in to meet the SA president, our political desk must know or my director must know that there is another president from another country who is coming in. For any president who is coming into SA for a state visit, they are supposed to assign a protocol officer for that specific visit.

"The desk is supposed to also be involved if there is any visit but in this matter all of those did not happen. Normally the director is the one who will call me if there is a formal request but this time my director did not know anything."

Matjila said this letter was not handed over in this case.

"Normally, there will be meetings that will be held to prepare for the visit. In this no meeting took place. Normally, I am the one who will send the Note Verbale to the Air Force requesting the landing, but in this matter I was surprised that it went directly to the Air Force," he said.

He said he received a call from Koloane asking for him to approve the landing. He then received another call from Koloane's personal assistant reiterating the request and, he says, he asked for the proper documentation to be forwarded.

"There was no document that I had from [Koloane]... I told her [Koloane's personal assistant] if we are not in possession of the Note Verbale, there is absolutely nothing we can do," he said.

Thabo Ntshisi. who works at the Waterkloof military base's command centre, told the commission on Wednesday that he would usually communicate with Matjila when foreign delegations were expected to arrive in SA.

He said when he contacted Matjila about the Gupta flight, Matjila referred him to Koloane.

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