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Koloane denies Zuma pressure over Gupta Waterkloof landing

Former head of State Protocol Bruce Koloane made the denial at the state capture commission of inquiry on Monday where the commission has turned its attention to the controversial incident in 2013.

A screengrab of the former head of state protocol Bruce Koloane appearing at the Zondo Commission on 8 July 2019.

PRETORIA – Former head of State Protocol Bruce Koloane has denied he ever said he was under pressure from number one - a reference to former President Jacob Zuma - to authorise the Gupta family landing a privately chartered jet at the Waterkloof Air Force Base.

Koloane made the denial at the state capture commission of inquiry on Monday where the commission has turned its attention to the controversial incident in 2013.

While South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands was found to have facilitated the unauthorised landing, he said that he did not have the authority to instruct the Department of Defence to authorise it, as alleged.

Evidence leader Advocate Thandi Norman read part of a defence force officials affidavit which implicated Koloane.

While Koloane's memory supported this emphatic denial, he at other times claimed he could not remember pertinent details or that he had not been given adequate time to prepare.

Koloane's legal team will be given an opportunity on Tuesday to apply for a postponement if they believe continuing his testimony would be unfair to him.

PROCESSING APPLICATIONS

Koloane said the first time he heard of the application to land at Waterkloof Air Force Base was when the Indian High Commissioner called to complain that their application was taking long to be processed.

He said he called a warrant officer in the Department of Defence.

“Mine was to say to him, please can you make sure you expedite the processing of the flight clearance application we have received from the Indian High Commission. And again, I want to stress the word processing the application.”

Koloane said he did not issue any instruction to authorise the landing.

“I did not ever give myself power that I never had because I knew my limitation in terms of the statues and there is no way I could have given instructions that I order another official from another department.”

He said there may have been a miscommunication or misunderstanding which led to the incident.

Koloane said a letter written by his personal assistant claiming he authorised the Gupta landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base was a misunderstanding.

He was asked to read from an email his personal assistant sent to the Department of International Relations' director-general.

“As per your discussion with ambassador Koloane, with regard to the flight clearance landing at Waterkloof, kindly note that Koloane telephonically approved the request.”

He was asked what request he allegedly approved that was being referred to.

“Again, as I stated, I only authorised that they follow up to make sure that this whole application is processed. I am not the one who drafted the email.”

Koloane insisted he did not instruct the department of defence to authorise the landing.

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