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Home Affairs Dept yet to tally cost of legal battle with Fireblade Aviation

The Department of Home Affairs says it’s the end of the line for legal challenges against the Oppenheimer’s aviation company, Fireblade Aviation.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba at the Lindela Holding Facility in Krugersdorp on 5 November 2018. Picture Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

CAPE TOWN – The Department of Home Affairs says it’s the end of the line for legal challenges against the Oppenheimer’s aviation company, Fireblade Aviation.

Minister Malusi Gigaba has exhausted all avenues to challenge a ruling that he gave the company permission for immigration services at the terminal at OR Tambo International Airport.

The department says it has not yet tallied the cost of the protracted legal battle.

After calling Gigaba to appear before Parliament’s Home Affairs committee on Tuesday night, Members of Parliament (MPs) excused him from the meeting, saying that it has accepted the court’s ruling on the matter, and it no longer needed him to explain any further.

After turning Gigaba away, it was left to Home Affairs officials to field MPs' questions on Fireblade.

At issue for Parliament’s Home Affairs committee is that the arrangement is not dictated by any agreement.

The department says a memorandum of understanding has been drafted but was put on hold until the legal process had run its course.

Committee chairperson Hlomane Chauke says it’s clear the department is unprepared for situations that arise at a private aviation terminal.

“Immediately when this matter started, you should have worked on them, from the start, that’s government. The government has the capacity to develop policy.”

The department revealed that the SA Revenue Service makes no money from the services it offers at the Fireblade terminal.

The department itself recoups only the cost of staff seconded to the terminal in the amount of R1.4 million a year.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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