Ramaphosa says ruling on 'lying' Gigaba of great concern
President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed concern at a recent court ruling that found Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba violated the Constitution by lying under oath.
The High Court in Pretoria found that Gigaba’s assertion that he had never given approval to the Oppenheimers’ Fireblade Aviation to establish a VIP facility at OR Tambo International Airport during a meeting in January 2016 was false.
Fireblade Aviation had sued Gigaba for allegedly going back on his undertaking to make officials available to Fireblade to staff its customs and immigration facility. Gigaba denied that he had approved the terminal, but the court found against him. The court stated that Gigaba had violated the Constitution and denied him the right to appeal.
"The minister has committed a breach of the Constitution so serious that I could characterise it as a violation," Judge Neil Tuchten said.
The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Gigaba’s application to appeal the high-court ruling.
Opposition parties have called on the president to sack Gigaba following the court ruling. In February, the DA laid a formal complaint with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane requesting her to further investigate Gigaba following the high court ruling. In a written response on Tuesday to a question from Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota, Ramaphosa said the court ruling was of "great concern and needs to be given serious attention".
"The judgment handed down in the Pretoria high court in the matter of Fireblade Aviation [versus] minister of home affairs contains statements about the minister of home affairs that are of great concern and need to be given serious attention. I am therefore giving the matter due and proper consideration," said Ramaphosa.
In February, Gigaba maintained that there had been no agreement with the Oppenheimers. "At no stage was there an agreement with Fireblade. Legally you cannot have a private terminal for a family," said Gigaba, who was recently moved back to home affairs from the finance portfolio.
In a recent blog post, constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said it goes without saying that court findings constitute an extremely serious indictment of Gigaba.
"As things stand, it is a proven fact that Minister Gigaba deliberately attempted to mislead the court, that he is therefore dishonest and — by implication — that one could not trust anything he says.
"If one is prepared to lie to the court in the face of overwhelming evidence refuting your lie, who would you not lie to?"