Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has vowed to continue the fight to block the powerful Oppenheimer family’s intention to operate a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport pending “due process”.
The minister said he plans to challenge the court ruling that Fireblade Aviation could operate at Africa’s biggest and busiest airport.
Fireblade Aviation spokesperson Louise Brugman said they were unfazed by Gigaba’s latest comments on the issue. “The judgment was clear. We can’t comment. We won the court case.”
The approval was granted last year, but was revoked a few days later, apparently following pressure from the controversial Gupta family.
Fireblade subsequently asked the court to declare that the approval remain in force.
Judge Sulet Potterill said the facts reflected that the concept of establishing a fixed-based aviation operation (FBO) was already floated in 2011 and had the support of the airport, the Airports Company, Denel and Home Affairs.
Yesterday, Gigaba said his department was not trying to remove Fireblade. “We are approaching the Constitutional Court to seek a review of the Supreme Court of Appeal decision because we believe there were significant errors in the decision taken.
“You would remember that when the appeal was launched at the Supreme Court, I was no longer minister of home affairs and I didn’t see the contents of the affidavits and approach being taken with regard to the appeal.
“What we are appealing are fundamental issues. Should rich people have access to government resources and services merely because they can pay for them without following due processes?”
Gigaba said any person or company that wants to do business with the government must follow due processes.
He also stated that, as a minister, he was never afforded the opportunity to give evidence in the matter, something that would have provided clarity.
“When the affidavits were being considered, and they were contradictory, the minister was not offered the opportunity to give oral evidence and outline the processes. We think there has been a misunderstanding of government processes. And so we would like this decision to be set aside.”
Gigaba said this was why there was no letter of approval or contract signed.
After Fireblade won the court battle, there were reports that Gigaba was trying to reverse his approval following pressure from the Guptas.
However, Gigaba once again said those making such allegations were misleading the public. “That is a scapegoat. It is an easy way out for anybody who can’t provide evidence. It surprises me that the courts did not ask for evidence and worked on the basis of gossip.”