De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer 
Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
De Beers chairman Nicky Oppenheimer Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Malusi Gigaba, the Minister of Home Affairs. 
Photo: Cindy Waxa  African News Agency (ANA)
Malusi Gigaba, the Minister of Home Affairs. Photo: Cindy Waxa African News Agency (ANA)

DURBAN – The Fireblade Aviation controversy continues on Tuesday. 

Malusi Gigaba, the Minister of Home Affairs, will be appearing in Parliament after Nicky Oppenheimer made an appearance last week. 

THE BACKSTORY

The minister's appearance in Parliament is in connection with Fireblade Aviation being granted permission to operate a private terminal at the OR Tambo International Airport. 

It should be noted that Nicky Oppenheimer is the chairperson of Fireblade Aviation. 

The aviation company offered Fixed Base Operation services and private charter services at OR Tambo International Airport. 

Oppenheimer said that Gigaba gave his approval for the use of the terminal but the minister later tried to back down from the agreement. 

Gigaba denied giving permission to Fireblade Aviation to use the terminal at the airport. 

In a previous hearing last week, a court found in favour of the billionaire while Gigaba was accused of lying under oath. 

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Gigaba violated the constitution and the executive ethics code when he lied in court under oath. 

PROFILE: Nicky Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer is ranked at 202 on the list of Forbes Billionaires 2018 and he is ranked second on the list of Africa's Billionaires for 2018. 

Oppenheimer is behind Aliko Dangote of Nigeria. 

The 73-year-old whose full name is Nicholas F Oppenheimer has a real-time net worth of $7.7 billion (R109bn). Oppenheimer's grandfather Ernest Oppenheimer founded Anglo American and ran the mining corporation DeBeers. 

Nicky is the third generation Oppenheimer to run DeBeers. He also owns the biggest game reserve in South Africa, called Tswalu Kalahari Reserve. 

The billionaire sits as the Chairman and Director of DeBeers Centenary and Director of DeBeers Consolidated Mines. 

In 2012, Oppenheimer sold his 40 percent share in DeBeers to Anglo American for $5.1bn in cash. 

In 2016, the Oppenheimer's invested R100 million in hedge fund Senqu Capital. 

According to the Senqu Capital website was created with the objective of generating superior returns for investors over the medium to long-term. 

Oppenheimer and the Guptas

According to a 2017 article by Business Day, the Gupta's attempted to load a suitcase with suspicious items at the Fireblade Aviation terminal. 

Sources in the article suspected that the suitcase contained diamonds. At the time Oppenheimer confirmed that an X-ray machine operator refused to load a suitcase on an aircraft that was owned by the customer.

 Oppenheimer also refused to elaborate on the matter. 

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE