Former president Jacob Zuma was fully aware of the role played by former chief of state protocol Bruce Koloane in facilitating the Gupta Waterkloof landing in 2013 before appointing him as South African ambassador to the Netherlands, the state capture inquiry heard on Thursday.
However, Zuma looked “very angry” when former minister of international relations and cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told him his name was used to facilitate the Waterkloof landing, she testified on Thursday.
In July, Koloane admitted before the inquiry that, in his role as former chief of state protocol, he had abused the powers of his office to facilitate the Gupta Waterkloof landing.
He also admitted he had “name-dropped” to pressure officials to expedite the processing of the flight clearance request.
The Gupta family landed a commercial aircraft at the air force base without permission back in 2013. It carried about 200 guests who were invited to attend the family’s lavish wedding at Sun City.
Testifying before inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Thursday, Nkoana-Mashabane, who is now the minister of women, youth and persons with disabilities, said before she recommended Koloane as South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands she had discussed the Waterkloof landing matter several times with Zuma.
“The first time I had a conversation with him he looked very angry, on the third or fourth day he was to fly to Brazzaville and things were still disconnected there, he stood there and shook his head. I felt a little bit sorry for him,” she added.
After Koloane faced disciplinary action and was then suspended for two months without pay for his role in the saga, Nkoana-Mashabane still recommended him to Zuma for an appointment as ambassador.
But when Zondo asked if she had stated in her letter of recommendation that Koloane played a role in the Waterkloof landing, she said she only informed Zuma during discussions.
Koloane was then appointed to the cushy ambassadorial post by Zuma.
However, he resigned as ambassador after being recalled over his testimony at the state capture commission.
In 2017, News24 reported further details of Koloane’s close ties to the Guptas and that he was securing business deals for the brothers in the Netherlands.
This according to the #GuptaLeaks and a string of emails between Koloane, the Guptas and their associates.