Op­pen­heimer rul­ing slated

The Mercury - - NEWS - Baldwin Nd­aba

A LAND­MARK rul­ing in the High Court in Pre­to­ria al­low­ing the Op­pen­heimer fam­ily to op­er­ate cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion ser­vices at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port has been de­scribed as the pri­vati­sa­tion of gov­ern­ment’s func­tions.

This is the view of pro­fes­sor Loren Lan­dau of the African Cen­tre for Mi­gra­tion and So­ci­ety at Wits Univer­sity.

Lan­dau made the com­ment af­ter Judge Sulette Pot­ter­ill ruled that the for­mer min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs and now Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, Malusi Gi­gaba, did give the Op­pen­heimers, through their com­pany Fire­blade, per­mis­sion to run cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion ser­vices at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

The Op­pen­heimers lodged a court ap­pli­ca­tion af­ter Gi­gaba de­nied that he had given them per­mis­sion last Jan­uary to go ahead with their plans.

The Op­pen­heimers ar­gued that Gi­gaba re­neged af­ter Denel sud­denly cited se­cu­rity con­cerns over the pro­posed ter­mi­nal.

They ar­gued that the Gup­tas were be­hind the back­track­ing.

Gi­gaba and Denel have de­nied the al­le­ga­tions against them.

But Judge Pot­ter­ill ruled in favour of the fam­ily, say­ing Gi­gaba’s ap­proval was “of force and ef­fect and may not be re­voked with­out due cause”.

She said Fire­blade could im­ple­ment and rely on the ap­proval.

Pri­vati­sa­tion

“This has been the ar­gu­ment of cor­po­rate South Africa, to put pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment to fa­cil­i­tate the move­ment of highly skilled peo­ple to South Africa.

“In re­al­ity, it is the pri­vati­sa­tion of the state func­tion,” Lan­dau said.

He made an ex­am­ple about the land­ing of hun­dreds of peo­ple at Waterk­loof Air Base to at­tend the Gup­tas’ wed­ding at Sun City in 2013 with­out un­der­go­ing thor­ough se­cu­rity checks by lo­cal im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers em­ployed by the gov­ern­ment.

“To al­low a fam­ily to run cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion ser­vices sug­gest that the state is giv­ing some of its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions.”

Home Af­fairs yes­ter­day re­acted to the rul­ing, say­ing they were “study­ing the con­tents of the judg­ment and will make an an­nounce­ment in due course about the next steps in this re­gard”.

The EFF was irked by the high court’s rul­ing.

EFF spokesper­son Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi said: “We con­demn this as a sign that this fam­ily seeks to use its fi­nan­cial power to con­tinue en­joy­ing the apartheid set-up of exclusive ac­cess and exit points for Euro­peans only.

“The VVIP will by and large be used by Euro­peans to the ex­clu­sion and marginal­i­sa­tion of the ma­jor­ity of non-Euro­peans, as it will be based on fi­nan­cial mus­cle,” Nd­lozi added.

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