Overwhelming probability that Zuma knew about Gupta plane at Waterkloof - Zondo

During the commission’s public hearings, it heard evidence from a dozen witnesses on the scandal, including Zuma, who insisted he didn’t know where they were going to land, or even that there was going to be a landing that day.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma at the state capture commission on 19 July 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - In July 2019, former President Jacob Zuma took the stand at the state capture commission and insisted that he had no prior knowledge of the Guptas’ now infamous 2013 use of the Waterkloof military airbase.

But commission chair, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has made it clear in his fifth report that he was not buying what Zuma had been trying to sell.

In April 2013, a commercial aircraft carrying some 200 travellers who had flown in from India to attend a lavish Gupta wedding at Sun City was allowed to land at the base, which is ordinarily reserved for military and diplomatic flights.

READ: Final state capture report in full

During the commission’s public hearings, it heard evidence from a dozen witnesses on the scandal, including Zuma, who insisted he didn’t know where they were going to land, or even that there was going to be a landing that day.

But in the report, which was released on Wednesday night, Zondo found that this was “difficult to accept”.

In his report, Zondo found that given Zuma’s admittedly close relationship with the Guptas, the probability was overwhelming that the former president knew about the landing ahead of time and had no objections to it.

In fact, Zondo said that all indications were that he would have taken steps to have the landing of the private aircraft facilitated.

Then chief of state protocol, Bruce Koloane, who apparently told Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula's adviser he was "under pressure from number one" to get the landing cleared that day, was found guilty of abusing diplomatic channels, among other charges, and suspended over his role in facilitating it.

At the commission, though, Koloane maintained that he had simply been "name-dropping". But Zondo didn’t buy this either, finding that it was probable that he was indeed acting on the instructions of or at the request of Zuma.

In coming to this conclusion, he relied on claims made by former Gupta media editor, Rajesh Sundaram, in his book Indentured: Behind the scenes at Gupta TV that Atul Gupta had told him that those against whom action had been taken, would ultimately be reinstated and the fact that Koloane was subsequently appointed ambassador to the Netherlands.