Zuma was involved in Guptagate, says Anderson

President Jacob Zuma. (Gallo)

President Jacob Zuma. (Gallo)

President Jacob Zuma has been implicated in Guptagate, according to a sworn affidavit by a senior airforce official published in Beeld newspaper on Thursday.

"On or about 17 April 2013, Mr [Bruce] Koloane phoned me and he informed me that he had returned from the president and that the president wanted to know 'if everything is still on track for the flight'," read an excerpt of the affidavit by Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson.

"I informed him [Koloane] that we were awaiting the overflight clearance and once this was received, we would be able to finalise the movements of the passengers."

Anderson also confirmed that Zuma was the "Number One", referred to in a report on Guptagate by the justice department.

"Number One is the president of the Republic of South Africa. For safety reasons we never refer to the president in phone conversations," said Anderson.

She is one of five members of the South African National Defence Force who have been charged before a military court in connection with the landing of a private aircraft at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in April.

Anderson (59) has been suspended from her job for her role in the unlawful landing of the Gupta family's chartered jet at Waterkloof Air Force Base on April 30, whereas Koloane, a senior government official who apparently instigated the affair, received what her lawyer advocate Pikkie Greef called a "slap on the wrist".

Koloane, who has since been demoted, was the chief of state protocol at the time. The report by the justice department said he and other senior officials acted alone.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj told Beeld that the presidency never commented on any details surrounding the Gupta debacle and that would remain the case.

A chartered commercial aircraft, Jet Airways flight JAI 9900 from India, ferrying more than 200 guests for the wedding of Vega Gupta (23) and Aakash Jahajgarhia, landed at the base in April.

The passengers were then transported, either by light aircraft, helicopter or in police-escorted vehicles, to attend the lavish ceremony at Sun City's Palace of the Lost City in North West.

The landing sparked widespread criticism and several investigations were launched.

'Slap on the wrist'
A government investigation into the matter exonerated Zuma and his ministers, and found that the landing was the result of "collusion by officials".

The Guptas are close to Zuma and his son, Duduzane, is in business with them.

Greeff told the Mail & Guardian earlier in September that he still had to make a decision on whether Zuma may be called to testify about the Gupta plane-landing scandal in terms of the Military Discipline Supplementary Measures Act.

Criminal charges should also be investigated against the Gupta family, added Greeff. "Section 42 of the Defence Act said this was an unlawful offence. Why are the Guptas not being called to book? Why has a docket not been opened, and why has the matter not been investigated by the police? This is a serious criminal offence. These soldiers would not be in court if no offences were committed."

In the government's justice, crime prevention and security cluster report about the use of Waterkloof by the Guptas, which was released in June, Zuma was found innocent, said Greeff. However, there were findings against Anderson, who was not even called to give evidence.

Greeff said Anderson appeared to have accepted her situation but would continue to fight for justice and try to clear her name.

"Anderson is just waiting for it to be over. She is not very happy," said Greeff. "I get the impression she is just wanting to go off on pension. She is a very strong person and she is angry and done with these guys." – Additional reporting by Glynnis Underhill



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