The Department of Home Affairs has to date spent R874‚199 on legal costs pertaining to Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s defence of his decision in the Fireblade Aviation matter.
This was confirmed on Thursday in a written reply by Gigaba to a parliamentary question by DA chief whip John Steenhuisen.
The case concerned Gigaba’s decision to overturn approval for the Oppenheimer-owned Fireblade Aviation to operate a private customs and immigration service at OR Tambo International Airport.
A judge found the minister to have lied to the court. He lost his appeal to a full bench of the high court‚ as well as his appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal‚ and has decided to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.
Steenhuisen said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that Gigaba’s involvement in the Fireblade Aviation matter would continue to incur legal fees “as he attempts to overturn the damning findings of the high court‚ which concluded that the minister lied under oath and violated the Constitution.
“The amount of legal costs incurred by the Department of Home Affairs to protect a constitutional delinquent will only continue to escalate as he needlessly pursues this matter at the expense of taxpayers.
“It is simply not enough for President Cyril Ramaphosa to express ‘great concern’ or ‘give serious attention’ to Gigaba’s unlawful conduct. The damning findings and escalating legal costs demand that the president immediately intervene and take action against the minister.”
Steenhuisen has laid a formal complaint with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane‚ requesting that she investigate Gigaba’s conduct in the light of the judgment to determine whether he had contravened the Executive Members’ Ethics Act and the ethics code.
Mkhwebane has informed Ramaphosa her investigation will take longer than the stipulated one month.
Steenhuisen has criticised the delay‚ saying this should be an open and shut case.
But Oupa Segalwe‚ acting spokesman for the public protector‚ said the court found that Gigaba told “untruths under oath”‚ not that he breached the executive code of ethics. The public protector would have to determine whether his conduct was a breach of the code.
By: Linda Ensor