Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has told News24 that had her investigation into the 2013 Gupta Waterkloof landing been released to the public, it would have had major implications for the government and president.
"It would have cleared those whose names were soiled in the public debate and it would have held accountable those who acted and those who should have acted. It would have also raised issues around what was the responsibility of the government, including the president, when it was said that somebody used your name in vain," she said.
Madonsela said in a radio interview on Wednesday that they had a thorough understanding of what had happened and who was in the wrong, but recommendations had not yet been made because her term of office had concluded.
In 2013, the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster was tasked with looking into the landing of a commercial aircraft by the Gutpas at the Waterkloof military base. The aircraft carried about 200 guests who were attending an extravagant wedding at Sun City.
On Wednesday, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane confirmed that she had closed the investigation into Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson's complaint that the JCPS probe in the Waterkloof landing was irregular.
Madonsela, however, said that she had investigated more than just Anderson's complaint.
"The investigation covered everything that happened - the landing, the home affairs people, everything. We covered everything...
"The intention was to publish the report dealing with what happened and then our commentary on what the task team was expected to do, but we needed to know what happened to be able to comment on the failures of the task team in investigating what happened," she said.
Madonsela added that while no recommendations had been made, the investigation took on a holistic approach.
"For us, it was going to report on what happened, what should have happened and what the investigation should have done to the extent that that investigation may not have done what it should have done and what was the risk to the security of the state of South Africa.
"But also the wasteful expenditure that may have happened given the fact that the deployment of government officials to go and deal with the Gupta landing meant extra resources."
Madonsela said there needed to be reasoning behind the scrapping of the report.
"Whoever scraps an investigation has to answer the Constitutional Court's questions that have been raised on the exercise of public power - it must be lawful, it must be rational, it must be reasonable, it must be fair [and] it must be proportionate.
"The story needed to be told - who exactly was responsible for this, but also how to make sure that this never happens again."
State capture commission
While Zondo commission spokesperson Reverend Mbuyiselo Stemela could neither confirm nor deny that it would be investigating the Waterkloof landing, Madonsela called on her successor to share her findings with the inquiry.
"What I've suggested is that, can the record in its entirety from the very first letter that was written to everybody - my letters that were written to the people interviewed, their responses to me, a record of the interviews with them, a record of the radio conversation that led to the authorisation of the landing, my communication with my staff after we concluded the investigation, all of that should be sent to the Zondo commission," she said.
Mkhwebane cited the following reasons for closing the case:
- The impact of the JCPS cluster 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.
Madonsela, however, disagreed with this.
"The fact that the charges were withdrawn against Anderson does not mean her good name does not remain as the woman who did something wrong. This was a public story, it wasn't an issue of an internal disciplinary process ... it was a national story that somebody left the gates open to our precious country and left us exposed.
"There was a sense of worry in the nation - what else can be left open? What kind of dangers could befall our nation if things like this happen?"