The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday laid a formal complaint with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, requesting that she probe Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba for allegedly lying under oath during court proceedings and violating the Constitution during his tenure as minister of home affairs.
This comes after a court battle launched by Fireblade Aviation in November 2016 against the Department of Home Affairs and others.
The application sought to have the court declare that approval for a terminal – allegedly granted by Gigaba in early 2016 while he was still minister of home affairs – could not be renounced.
The DA said that at the time it was alleged that Gigaba revoked the approval he initially granted following pressure from the controversial Gupta family.
However, in October 2017 – the North Gauteng High Court granted permission to the aviation company, owned by the Oppenheimer family, to run a private customs and immigration service at OR Tambo International Airport for business people.
The South African Revenue Service (Sars) and the Department of Home Affairs would render the customs and immigration service, as is the case at Lanseria and Kruger Mpumalanga International airports, which are also privately owned.
Denials from minister
Sars and state-owned defence company Denel, from which Fireblade would lease the premises, both opposed the application.
Gigaba, now the minister of finance, previously denied claims by the Oppenheimers that he had approved their application for a port of entry.
"I wish to state categorically that at no stage have I ever approved such application as alleged by the family," he said in a statement issued by the department in January 2017.
In December 2017, the Oppenheimers again won a legal battle to operate a private customs and immigration service at OR Tambo International Airport.
This, after Fireblade launched an urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court to have Home affairs Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and director-general Mkhuseli Apleni jailed for contempt of court after still not being able to open its VVIP services for international travellers despite court rulings in its favour, the Citizen reported.
The court found that in Gigaba's affidavit in response to the matter, he denied ever having approved the application.
Call for Gigaba's removal as minister
"Unfortunately, there is no escaping the conclusion that the rejection of the minister's version must carry with it the conclusion that [he] had deliberately told untruths under oath," read the judgment.
The ruling also stated that Gigaba was bound by the Constitution not to act in any way that is inconsistent with his office.
"By telling a deliberate untruth on facts central to the decision of this case, the minister has committed a breach of the Constitution so serious that I would characterise it as a violation," read the judgment.
However, on Wednesday, Gigaba told journalists at a briefing ahead of his 2018 Budget speech that the decision by the court was being challenged. He said at no stage did he have an agreement with Fireblade.
But the DA said the ANC should now be compelled to act against Gigaba if it is a "renewed" organisation.
The DA also called for Gigaba's removal from office as finance minister.
"The ANC must prove to the South African people that they are serious about taking action against yet another one of their colleagues who has been found to have violated the Constitution for the benefit of the Gupta family.
"Should they fail to act, it would amount to a serious indictment on the ANC under President [Cyril] Ramaphosa's leadership."