Former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi at the Zondo commission. Picture: MASI LOSI
Former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi at the Zondo commission. Picture: MASI LOSI

Former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi has placed former president Jacob Zuma at the centre of the Gupta Waterkloof landing scandal, during his testimony to the state capture inquiry on Wednesday.

Ramatlhodi told deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, who is leading the inquiry, that his impression was that Zuma had authorised the landing. 

In 2013, a private jet carrying guests for the lavish Gupta wedding in Sun City, landed at the Waterkloof Airforce Base. It was one of the first incidents to reveal the extent of the Guptas’ involvement in state capture. 

"What happens at the air force base [Waterkloof], only heads of state land there. But on this occasion this plane from India just landed there and there were preparations, cause even traffic cops were escorting those buses to the North West," Ramatlhodi said.

Former minister Ngoaka Ramathlodi and his then adviser Sam Muofhe will be testifying before the state capture inquiry on November 28 2018.

"It was a well-planned reception, which could not happen without a higher authority knowing."

After the landing, Ramatlhodi and others in the ANC advised Zuma not to attend the Gupta wedding. It was advice he listened to. 

“We said, ‘Mr president, it is unacceptable that a private jet carrying guests lands at our air force base. We fought to have command of this air force base’.” 

Ramatlhodi was appointed mineral resources minister in 2014, following general elections. He said the Guptas and Zuma's son, Duduzane Zuma, were pushing to meet him following his appointment, something he resisted. 

Ramatlhodi said the Waterkloof landing had influenced his attitude towards the Guptas, and that it was the “last insult”.

“Presidents have friends in the business community … but these ones [the Guptas], I felt they were even insulting the president. They were showing off, showing that they had captured the state,” Ramatlhodi said.

He told the commission that the Guptas were able to summon Zuma to their house and they bragged about that. 

There were also ministers, such as Mosebenzi Zwane and Des van Rooyen, who were “camping” at the Guptas’ home. 

Ramatlhodi said that at ANC national executive committee meetings where concerns around the Guptas were raised, Zuma would say the family were his friends and that they had helped Duduzane and his other son, Edward Zuma. 

He said Zuma would not budge on the Guptas during these meetings.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za