Pretoria - The Oppenheimers’ plans to run customs and immigration services at OR Tambo International Airport is on hold for now, pending the outcome of possible appeal proceedings against last month’s Gauteng High Court, Pretoria judgment in favour of the family.
Judge Sulete Potterill at the time ruled that the former Minister of Home Affairs and now Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, did give the Oppenheimer’s, through their company Fireblade, permission to run customs and immigration services at the airport.
The minister and the department’s director-general, meanwhile applied for leave to appeal against the judgement. They want the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein to take another look at the issues.
Judge Potterill is expected to give judgment on the leave to appeal application on Friday.
The leave to appeal proceedings had meanwhile automatically suspended the operation of the court’s judgment, pending the final outcome of all proceedings in this regard.
The minister and the department cited a number of points in which it claimed the judge had erred when she came to the conclusion that Gigaba did, in fact, give the Oppenheimers permission to go ahead with their proposed luxury VVIP terminal at the airport.
The minister and the department also argued that the judge had erred in failing to consider their counter application, which they had lodged together with the main application.
They asked for an order which declared that “the power of the minister to designate a place as a port of entry, can only be used where such a port would be used by all persons and become accessible to all persons.”
It was said by the minister and the department that while the judge did acknowledge the counter application, she simply did not rule on it.
Judge Potterill in her judgment remarked that she was not required to address the counter application as she had found that “the minister did communicate his decision to approve the customs and immigration services”. According to her reasoning, the counter-application would have made no difference to the situation.
But the department and the minister said this was a misdirection on the part of the judge and that on this point alone, they had reasonable prospects of success on appeal.