'Guptagate' officers off the hook

JANUARY 20, 2015

The South African National Defence Union (SANDU) on Tuesday confirmed that all charges against two members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) who were involved in the ‘Guptagate’ scandal have been withdrawn.

SANDU's national secretary, Pikkie Greeff, said that military prosecuting authorities have informed the attorneys of Lieutenants-Colonel Stephan van Zyl and Christine Anderson that they will not be prosecuted.

The two were accused of being involved in the landing of a private jet carrying guests to a wedding for wealthy business family the Guptas, at the Waterkloof Air Force base in Pretoria.

"It is absolutely despicable that two officers with perfect reputations in the military and clean records of service would be identified to take the fall for political experience. The fact of the matter is the damage that has been done to them is irritable and there has to be some kind of action to try and recover the damages," said Greeff.

 

Civil claims

The trade union said Lieutenants-Colonel Christine Anderson and Stephan van Zyl will institute a civil law claim against those responsible for implicating them in the Guptagate scandal.

“SANDU and the two officers are elated at this development. However, this matter should never even have implicated the two officers concerned in the first place,” he said.

“Furthermore, the fact that the authorities are now quietly attempting to walk away from this matter is somewhat of a cheap cop-out, after inflicting irreparable damage to the reputations of the two officers concerned. These officers had to wait sixteen months, since being promised a trial date after no less than three separate State-driven investigations, only to now be informed that the entire matter has been dropped.”

Authorities 'too cowardly'

He said the only “reasonable inference” is that the authorities are “too cowardly to have this matter heard at an independent forum, such as a court of law, for fear of the material flaws of their own investigations being exposed and, more importantly, the top level nepotism and corruption which enabled the landing of the plane at Waterkloof AFB.

“It has become clear that the entire process of the so-called investigations, thus far, was always aimed at the despicable ulterior motive of protecting the President and his political reputation at all costs.”

Greeff  said that “In the respective hearings of those matters, the SANDU legal team will not hesitate to subpoena all relevant witnesses, including President Jacob Zuma and all members of his erstwhile cabinet, who participated in the Justice Cluster's so-called investigations, as well as Bruce Koloane, who played a central role in orchestrating the Gupta landing.”

SANDU's legal team has already demanded, earlier today, the immediate reinstatement of Lt Col van Zyl to his post at Air Force Command.

Photo caption 1: The two officers were accused of being involved in the landing of a private jet carrying guests to a wedding for wealthy business family the Guptas, at the Waterkloof Air Force base in Pretoria.

Photo caption 2: Letter confiming withdrawal of case against them.