South Africa: Koloane Admits 'Name Dropping' to Expedite Processing of Gupta Landing Request

Photo: OPCW
Bruce Koloane, current Ambassador to the Netherlands (middle)

Former head of state protocol Bruce Koloane has admitted that he "name dropped" to pressure officials to expedite the processing of the flight clearance request for the Gupta aircraft landing at the Waterkloof air force base in 2013.

However, he added that "the minister of transport, nor the minister of defence, nor the president did not at any stage communicate to me that I should in any way deal with this matter, as it is expressed".

Koloane, who is now South Africa's ambassador to Netherlands, was testifying at the state capture commission of inquiry for a second day.

On Monday, he was given an opportunity to listen to "classified" audio recordings. He told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that the audio managed to "refresh" his memory.

"Having listened also to the recording, I would like to admit that indeed I did what has now become popularly known as 'name dropping' and used those sentences merely to push the officials, who were supposed to process the flight clearance to do their job, to do the processing."

"I also want to go on record, Mr Chair, that that was fundamentally nothing but name dropping, as it is popularly known nowadays," he said.

He said the only time he had interactions with then minister of transport Ben Martins was at a meeting at OR Tambo International Airport where he wanted to solicit "our advice" together with that of the Airports Company South Africa CEO about the plane landing there.

He said they had advised Martins that it would not be prudent for the Gupta plane to land there.

Koloane said even in that meeting, Martins never said he was given orders to assist the Gupta family.

"That was just a thought from my side, which I take full responsibility for," Koloane admitted.

"And again, I want to stress that it was fundamentally to put, if I may use the word, to put pressure on the officials to expedite the process of processing the flight clearance request," he said.

Koloane also admitted lying to Major Thabo Ntshisi to process the landing request.

But evidence leader, advocate Thandi Norman, was dissatisfied with Koloane's change of tune.

She said if the commission had not been furnished with the audio recording, it would not have known what transpired.

Former director general of justice and constitutional development Nonkululeko Sindane previously testified that during the investigation, Koloane denied that Zuma had instructed him.

"There were references to 'Number 1' and we say this was abuse because... for at least Ambassador Koloane, we interviewed him and he denied being instructed [by Zuma]," Sindane testified.

She added that the investigation also found that junior officials had abused the powers of those above them, News24 previously reported.


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