Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says the Immigration Act does not allow for wealthy and connected families to have private terminals at airports.
Gigaba on Tuesday briefed Parliament’s Home Affairs committee about the department’s legal showdown with Fireblade Aviation, which is owned by the Oppenheimer family.
The minister overturned approval for Fireblade Aviation to operate a private customs and immigration service at OR Tambo International Airport.
The private airport immigration facility is aimed at VIP guests and others using private aircraft to arrive and depart from the airport.
Outraged members of Parliament have heard how government services at OR Tambo airport were provided to a private family free of charge.
The Department of Home Affairs has to date spent close to R1 million on legal costs in its fight against Fireblade.
“The Immigration Act doesn’t provide for private family airports, this is a public good. It must be provided by the government for the good of everybody; those with money and those without money, especially those without.”
Gigaba and the department will now approach the Constitutional Court to establish the legality of privatising certain points of entry.
Previously the Pretoria High Court found Gigaba’s assertion that he’d never agreed to Fireblade Aviation setting up the VIP facility to be false and that he’d violated the Constitution.
Parliament will also request its own legal advice to avoid similar matters in future.
In February, the Airports Company of South Africa said the extra capacity provided by Fireblade would ease operations at OR Tambo’s main terminal.
Fireblade Aviation has denied it paid donations or made any other payments to the ANC or any other organisation during the application process.