Gupta Waterkloof landing: 'I was under the impression that this was the wish of the President', witness tells Zondo
Former South African Air Force officer Lieutenant Colonel Christine Anderson has said she was under the impression that the infamous Gupta Waterkloof landing was the "wish" of then president Jacob Zuma.
"[Former] Ambassador [Bruce] Koloane mentioned many times that the president [Jacob Zuma] was aware of the flight," Anderson told the commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday.
"I was under the impression that this was the wish of the president."
Anderson was responsible for movement control at the Waterkloof Air Force Base at the time of the infamous Gupta landing in 2013.
The plane carried over 200 guests who were invited to attend the Gupta family's lavish wedding at Sun City in North West, News24 reported.
Anderson said that prior to the landing, she dealt with Koloane and a man by the name of Ashu Chawla.
When probed by the evidence leader Advocate Thandi Norman SC as to who she believed Chawla was, Anderson responded: "He never told me who he represented. I was under the impression that he was a protocol officer from Dirco – yes, that is what I still believe today".
Chawla is the man believed to have been central in the facilitation of visas for the Guptas and the family's naturalisation, according to a Parliamentary committee probe into the family's naturalisation, News24 reported.
Koloane, the former chief of state protocol, previously told the commission that he abused the powers of his office in order to facilitate the Gupta Waterkloof landing in 2013, but he did not have control of diplomatic channels, News24 reported.
Flight had 'overflight clearance'
In her evidence at the Zondo commission, Anderson said her role was simply to facilitate arrivals and departures at the Waterkloof Air Force Base once she received a flight clearance and that it was not her place to question anything she thought "was not above board".
This comes after the chair of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, raised questions about whether Anderson knew ministers were on board the flight on the morning of the landing.
"Chair, I had an overflight clearance saying the plane could land there. Whether the ministers were on board or not, was not my responsibility," she said.
The witness said she realised that something was not right once the base was cleared and she had to return to the operations room to deal with a flight for the president.
"When the aircraft left and the passengers were gone, I went to the operations room – I was keen for them to leave because there was another aircraft that was set to take off.
"I was then told that the media was aware of the flight and there was a lot of attention. The president was supposed to fly to Sun City. It was cancelled and he flew to the DRC later that afternoon," she explained.
The inquiry continues.