Appeal court dismisses Gigaba’s application in battle with Oppenheimers

Appeal court dismisses Gigaba’s application in battle with Oppenheimers
Appeal court dismisses Gigaba’s application in battle with Oppenheimers
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

The Supreme Court of Appeal on Wednesday dismissed with costs an application by Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba for leave to appeal to it in his battle with the Oppenheimers.

The case concerned the approval by Gigaba of Fireblade Aviation’s application for an ad hoc international customs and immigration component of a corporate fixed-base aviation operation (FBO) in January 2016.

The customs and immigration component was to be conducted by officials of the Border Control Operational Co-ordinating Committee at premises Fireblade leased from Denel within the precincts of O R Tambo International Airport.

The committee is an affiliated structure of the Justice‚ Crime Prevention and Security Cluster and is mandated to manage the South African border environment.

In October last year‚ the Oppenheimers won their court battle to operate the private international terminal‚ with government customs and immigration support‚ after accusing Gigaba of reversing his approval.

Gigaba had granted Fireblade permission to operate the terminal on January 28 2016‚ only to reverse his approval three days later.

In a judgment passed on October 27 last year‚ Pretoria High Court Judge Sulet Potterill declared that Gigaba had on January 28 2016 granted Fireblade’s application.

She declared that the minister’s approval was of force and effect and may not be revoked without due cause.

An application by the minister for leave to appeal was heard on December 1 2017 and dismissed on December 8 2017.

An urgent appeal to the full bench of the high court was dismissed on December 14.

The minister applied to the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal against the original judgment of October 27.

The SCA said Potterill’s order in favour of Fireblade was based on two documents in which it was recorded clearly and contemporaneously that on January 28 2016‚ Gigaba had granted the approval sought and had signed a letter to that effect to be forwarded to Fireblade.

“The accuracy of these documents‚ one of which was a letter addressed personally to the Minister‚ was not challenged at the time‚” Judge of Appeal Malcolm Wallis said in his judgment.

There was no hearing in the SCA.

“We are accordingly of the opinion that an appeal against (Judge) Potterill’s judgment has no reasonable prospect of success. There is nothing to suggest that the issues raised by the Minister are of such a nature as to warrant the grant of leave to appeal notwithstanding the lack of prospects of success‚” Wallis said‚ in a judgment in which Acting Judge of Appeal Wendy Hughes concurred.

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