S. African Home Affairs Minister Misses Deadline to Clear Name

(Bloomberg) -- South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba missed a deadline to appeal a court finding that he’d reneged on a pledge to allow Fireblade Aviation, a company owned by the wealthy Oppenheimer family, to open a private immigration terminal at the nation’s biggest airport.

In December, High Court Judge Neil Tuchten upheld Fireblade’s complaint that Gigaba backtracked on an undertaking to delegate officials to staff their immigration and customs facility that was to be developed at the Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport. While Gigaba denied ever approving the project, saying that a family can’t have a private terminal, the judge said he had deliberately lied under oath and had breached the constitution.

Gigaba, who returned to the home affairs portfolio in February after an 11-month stint as finance minister, will file papers for a reprieve and an appeal next week, his spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said by phone from Johannesburg on Friday. “The case definitely needs a Constitutional Court ruling as to whether or not a private person can operate a point of entry,” Tshwete said.

The deadline for the appeal to be filed expired on Thursday, and the court isn’t obliged to grant an extension. A failure by Gigaba to have the ruling overturned will increase pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa to remove him from the cabinet. Opposition parties have previously accused Gigaba of making dubious appointments to the boards of state companies during his tenure as public enterprises minister, enabling their coffers to be looted. He denies wrongdoing.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.