Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
18 Jan 2018
11:41 am

Oppenheimers, home affairs at loggerheads again

Ilse de Lange

The minister should not be allowed to perpetuate the injustice by continuing to frustrate Fireblade, says Tuchten.


The Oppenheimer family’s Fireblade Aviation might finally be able to open it’s exclusive immigration service for super rich and famous international travelers using private aircraft next month after yet another legal skirmish in the High Court in Pretoria.

Fireblade this week launched a further urgent application in the High Court in Pretoria to have Home Affairs Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and director-general Mkhuseli Apleni jailed for contempt of court after still not being able to open it’s VVIP service for international travelers despite a series of court rulings in its favor.

The application was settled when Apleni “irrevocably and unconditionally” undertook to give effect to a December 2017 court order by ensuring that immigration services were rendered at Fireblade’s seven-star reception Centre at OR Tambo International Airport on or before 12 February.

The director-general was given leave to approach the court to alter the court order should the department for some reason not be able to fulfill the undertaking.

The undertaking will remain in place pending the final determination of appeal proceedings instituted in the Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court by Home Affairs.

The application was postponed indefinitely as far as the minister was concerned to give her time to indicate if she consented to the terms of the order.

The Minister and Director-General late last year also undertook to give effect to a series of court orders in Fireblade’s favour after a full bench of the High Court shortly before Christmas dismissed the Minister’s appeal against an enforcement order and a subsequent urgent application by Fireblade to have Dlodlo and Apleni jailed for ignoring the court order.

Judge Sulet Potterill ruled in October that one of Dlodlo’s predecessors, Malusi Gibaba (now the country’s Finance Minister) had granted permission for the department to run a customs and immigration service at Fireblade’s OR Tambo terminal and that Fireblade could implement the decision.

She rejected argument that the facility was unconstitutional as it should be available to the public at large and required a competitive public tender process.

A full bench of the court confirmed Judge Potterill’s ruling that Gigaba had indeed granted permission to extend Fireblade’s exclusive services to international travellers and that Gigaba’s claim to the contrary amounted to a serious violation of the Constitution.

Judge Neil Tuchten said in the appeal judgment Gigaba had, by telling a “deliberately untruth” on facts central to the decision of the case, committed a breach of the Constitution that was so serious that it could be characterised as a violation and amounted to an exceptional circumstance.

He said it was important that the Minister should not be allowed to perpetuate the injustice by continuing to frustrate Fireblade in that which he himself had granted pending an appeal which might possible take up to two years to finalise.

Fireblade customs service up, running

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