The Oppenheimer family has accused Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba of being captured by the Guptas, following his rejection of an application by the family for international flight permissions at its private air terminal.
This is according to a report in the Sunday Times.
The application is part of a move to boost a seven-star terminal for the ultra-rich at OR Tambo International Airport.
The Oppenheimers filed court papers this week stating that Gigaba must review and set aside his decision.
Gigaba launched a counterattack, calling the allegations “borderline racist” and that he is being thrown “under a convenient Gupta bus”.
The Gupta family did not respond to the allegations as they could not access the relevant court documents, stated the Sunday Times.
Fight for international flights
The terminal in question at OR Tambo was built by the Oppenheimer’s aviation company Fireblade.
In granting it permission to host international flights, it wants foreign dignitaries and celebrities to use the terminal without having to go through the main airport building.
“Fireblade says Gigaba’s approval is vital for financial viability,” stated the report.
The Sunday Times stated that the family “appeared to have won Gigaba’s support” after the minister said he signed a letter of approval for the terminal in January.
In October, Gigaba “made a U-turn” and said he had rejected the application.
The decision was reportedly based on security concerns raised by Denel and the need for public consultation.
“There may be other commercial firms who may want to provide the exact same service, perhaps at rates that are more favourable to the state,” stated Gigaba.
The Oppenheimers said the rejection is irrational and based on errors in law. The accusation of the minister being “captured by the Guptas” was also put forward.
The family said they have addressed all security concerns and received approval from the necessary border control authorities.
It was previously reported that the Guptas tried to use their influence over Denel to hijack the luxury terminal project.
The full report is in the Sunday Times of 4 December 2016.