Koloane’s Gupta link

2016 e­mail on Mar­itzburg golf day shows sup­port­ive re­la­tion­ship


JO­HAN­NES­BURG — The man at the cen­tre of the Gupta fam­ily’s land­ing of a pri­vate air­craft at Waterk­loof Air Force Base in 2013 has for the first time been di­rectly linked to the con­tro­ver­sial fam­ily.

“Sup­port what­ever he wants,” wrote an ap­par­ent Gupta in­sider in re­sponse to a re­quest from Bruce Koloane, the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial who played a key role in help­ing the Gup­tas ob­tain per­mis­sion to land a pri­vate air­craft at Waterk­loof, for spon­sor­ing the prizes at a pri­vate golf day Koloane ap­peared to have hosted last year.

The e­mail, which for the first time di­rectly links the Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Co­op­er­a­tion’s (Dirco) for­mer chief of state pro­to­col to the con­tro­ver­sial Gupta fam­ily, forms part of a huge batch of e­mails ob­tained by sis­ter pa­per City Press.

Koloane was sus­pended by Dirco in the wake of the Waterk­loof de­ba­cle in April 2013 amid spec­u­la­tion that he’d be­come the “fall guy” for Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, on whose in­struc­tion the land­ing of the Jet Air­ways plane was al­legedly cleared.

How­ever, Koloane was later con­tro­ver­sially ap­pointed as South Africa’s new am­bas­sador to the Nether­lands.

In Jan­uary 2016, al­most three years af­ter the Waterk­loof scan­dal, Koloane wrote an e­mail to Ashu Chawla, a di­rec­tor of sev­eral of the Gup­tas’ com­pa­nies and one of the fam­ily’s longest­serv­ing as­so­ci­ates, in which the am­bas­sador asked Chawla for a spon­sor­ship of his up­com­ing golf day.

“This year marks 20 years since I mar­ried my wife and [I] plan to host a golf tour­na­ment in De­cem­ber 2016 in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg as part of my cel­e­bra­tions,” Koloane wrote Chawla.

“I am writ­ing to you to re­quest your sup­port in spon­sor­ing some prices [sic] that I could use dur­ing the Golf Tour­na­ment.

“Should you be in a po­si­tion to help, an in­di­ca­tion of the type of prices [sic] you might be able to spon­sor would help in the plan­ning phase,” Koloane asked Chawla.

The Ya­hoo e­mail ad­dress used by Koloane is the same one listed in for­mal gov­ern­ment in­quiries into the Waterk­loof de­ba­cle, in­clud­ing the SANDF’s 2013 board of in­quiry into the mat­ter.

This jour­nal­ist also pre­vi­ously com­mu­ni­cated with Koloane us­ing the same ad­dress.

Chawla for­warded Koloane’s re­quest for the golf tour­na­ment spon­sor­ship to a Gmail ad­dress that ap­pears to be­long to a se­nior in­sider within the Gupta fold.

“Sup­port what­ever he wants,” the per­son wrote to Chawla a day af­ter Koloane’s orig­i­nal re­quest.

Other e­mails in the cache of doc­u­ments sug­gest that the per­son who re­sponded to Chawla holds a po­si­tion of au­thor­ity within the Gup­tas’ busi­ness net­work.

The user of the ac­count in ques­tion is at times ad­dressed as “sir” and even as “boss” in e­mails from other Gupta as­so­ci­ates and em­ploy­ees.

The ad­dress is also in­cluded in other e­mails ad­dressed to the likes of Tony “Ra­jesh” Gupta, the youngest of the three Gupta broth­ers.

On the same day in Jan­uary 2016 on which Koloane asked Chawla for the spon­sor­ship, the am­bas­sador also sent Chawla an e­mail with the CV of one Ad­vo­cate S’them­biso Ken­neth Md­ladla at­tached.

“I hope this mail finds you in good health. Please find at­tached herein a CV as dis­cussed with the brother,” Koloane wrote Chawla.

News24 man­aged to reach Md­ladla on his cell­phone.

He con­firmed that he knows Koloane, but said that he had no idea why his CV would have been for­warded to a Gupta as­so­ciate such as Chawla.

“Koloane is a dis­tant rel­a­tive of my wife.

“I have noth­ing to do with the Gup­tas, I don’t know why he sent my CV to that per­son,” said Md­ladla.

Koloane in­fa­mously stated that he had been un­der pres­sure from “Num­ber One” to help ob­tain a clear­ance for the land­ing of the Gup­tas’ char­tered jet at Waterk­loof in 2013, a probe by gov­ern­ment’s Jus­tice, Crime Preven­tion and Se­cu­rity (JCPS) clus­ter later showed.

Though it was widely be­lieved that Koloane was re­fer­ring to Zuma, the au­thors of the JCPS re­port ac­cepted the of­fice of the pres­i­dent’s de­nial that Zu­ ma had in any way played a role in the de­ba­cle. The re­port in­stead found that Koloane and a group of SANDF of­fi­cers im­pli­cated in the saga “mis­rep­re­sented” Zuma and his of­fice when they tried to con­vince other SANDF of­fi­cers that Zuma had per­son­ally ap­proved the land­ing.

The re­port, how­ever, never sug­gested why Koloane would have risked his en­tire ca­reer for the sake of help­ing the Gup­tas land their jet at the air base.

Chawla did not an­swer his cell­phone or re­spond to text and What­sApp mes­sages. The Gup­tas’ lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, did not re­ply to News24’s queries.

Koloane did not re­spond to an e­mail sent to him by News24. — News24.

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