Parliament to get update on Fireblade saga

Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs is expected to receive an update briefing on Tuesday morning regarding the circumstances surrounding the establishment of Fireblade Aviation.

It will be the first time that the department of home affairs has briefed Parliament on this matter since Malusi Gigaba resigned as minister in November last year.

Since Gigaba’s resignation, Siyabonga Cwele has taken over as minister of home affairs.

The portfolio committee will also be briefed by the Airports Company South Africa and Fireblade Aviation itself.

The Fireblade saga saw the former minister facing a Pretoria high court ruling that he lied under oath when he said he did not approve the operation of a privately-owned air traffic terminal owned by the Oppenheimer family.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane also released a report on the matter, with its remedial action directing President Cyril Ramaphosa to discipline Gigaba for perjuring himself and violating the Constitution as a member of the executive.

Gigaba has maintained that he did not perjure himself when he denied approving the operations of Fireblade Aviation at OR Tambo International Airport.

Fireblade Aviation founder Nicky Oppenheimer told Parliament that while he maintains there was an agreement for Fireblade to begin operations, this was oral and captured in the minutes of a meeting with the minister.

Committee members had earlier expressed concern that a private company would be allowed to perform the functions of customs, immigration, checking documentation as well as using government staff and resources with no discernible benefit for government or the general South African public.

Fledgling political party Black First Land First were notably vocal about the developments surrounding Fireblade Aviation, taking Oppenheimer to court for his role in the company’s establishment and operations, which the party says constituted fraud, bribery and corruption. — Fin24

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