South Africa: Mkhwebane Clarifies Decision to Scrap Gupta Landing Probe

Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane (file photo).

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has provided clarification on her decision to scrap the investigation into the Gupta Waterkloof landing investigation.

In 2013, an official implicated in the scandal, Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson, laid a complaint with the then-public protector, Thuli Madonsela, on the basis that the probe conducted by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) into the matter was irregular.

Anderson said she was not afforded the opportunity to reply to the allegations against her.

"From the investigation of the complaint, it transpired that Lt. Col. Anderson was indeed afforded the opportunity to respond to written questions put to her regarding the incident," Mkhwebane said in a statement released on Wednesday.

"Members of the JCPS investigation team disputed that she was not afforded an opportunity to submit more information and claimed that she failed to avail herself when she was required to do so," she continued.

Anderson was charged with contravening the military defence code, but in 2015 these charges were dropped.

Mkhwebane said that by this time, "Lt. Col. Anderson, who had been suspended from duty, had already retired having reached the compulsory retirement age of the SANDF in 2014".

The file was subsequently closed on the following grounds:

- The impact of the JCPSC investigation and report as far as it related to Anderson was overtaken by the final outcome of the board of inquiry and the withdrawal of the case against her;

- It was already three years since Anderson retired;

- Further investigation of her complaint by the Public Protector would have served no purpose.

She added that a confidential closing report was sent to Anderson as well as another complainant, David Maynier, now the finance MEC in the Western Cape.

On Tuesday, Maynier told News24 that he had received a closing letter from Mkhwebane, which indicated that the communication was highly confidential, and he could be prosecuted for revealing information in the letter.

"The document I received was a confidential document, in other words what happened was that the investigation was closed but the fact that it closed was confidential.

"[An] issue that needs to be looked at is the practice of closing investigations but keeping the fact of that secret. There is now a question of other investigations that have been closed and not been made public," he said.

"I don't think the truth of the incident has ever been made public and I think it should.

"Nobody was ever really held accountable for what happened, in fact the reverse happened, everybody who was involved in that incident, which was a national scandal, was promoted," Maynier continued.

Earlier on Wednesday, Madonsela said that she was surprised when she heard that the investigation into the Gutpa Waterkloof probe by the JCPS was closed.

Speaking on Talk Radio 702 with Eusebius McKaiser, Madonsela said the groundwork for the investigation was complete and they knew exactly what had happened and who was in the wrong, all that was needed was to write the report.

"The report was incomplete [but] the investigation was fully done, we got footage of what happened in the radio dialogue between the person at the Waterkloof base and the person who spoke to them, which was in this particular case, Mr [Brian] Koloane," said Madonsela.

In 2013, the Gupta's landed a private plane at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, which carried about 200 guests who were to attend an extravagant wedding at Sun City.

The JCPS probe found that officials had irregularly obtained permission for the landing. Two people - Koloane, the ambassador to the Netherlands, and Anderson - were also found to be responsible for this.

"The activities of Ambassador Koloane and Lieutenant Colonel Anderson were a serious dereliction of duty in that they were advancing the objectives of this project to the detriment of their official responsibilities," the report said.

Both were charged with contravention of the military defence code and as a result, Anderson filed a complaint with Madonsela, then public protector, saying the probe was irregular. This seemed to ruffle some feathers and two years later, in 2015, the charges against her were dropped.

Koloane, however, became the "fall guy" and pleaded guilty to all charges against him. He was later given a promotion.

Source: News24

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