BLF on Fireblade: We should be just as angry over Oppenheimers as Guptas

BLF leader Andile Mngxitama (Photo by Gallo Images/Beeld/Deaan Vivier)
BLF leader Andile Mngxitama (Photo by Gallo Images/Beeld/Deaan Vivier)

Fireblade Aviation's terminal at OR Tambo is no different to the Guptas landing at Waterkloof - and the impasse over the Oppenheimer family's private air travel business is a symptom of racism in how corruption is perceived, BLF leader Andile Mngxitama has said.

"When the Guptas landed at Waterkloof, there was so much noise [and there were] well-funded campaigns to get rid of [former president Jacob] Zuma," Mngxitama said, speaking at Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry's Rumble in the Urban Jungle at the Cape Sun on Tuesday evening.

"You call that state capture and corruption, and you are correctly unhappy."

However, in Mngxitama's view, there should be more public outrage over the Fireblade saga, which has seen Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba facing a North Gauteng High Court ruling that he lied under oath when he said he did not approve the operation of a privately-owned air traffic terminal owned by the Oppenheimer family.

Parliament's portfolio committee on home affairs called on Gigaba to account to it on Tuesday about his role.

"We were angry, correctly so, when the Guptas landed. Here the Oppenheimers, Jonathan and Nicky, go to the ANC and demand an international airport [terminal] of their own, inside an international airport," said Mngxitama.

"The sense of outrage is biased. Corruption is when you are not white."

'Very friendly'

The process of getting approval from Gigaba's department to use the terminal took three years, the Oppenheimers have said.

In 2017, a Gupta business jet was reportedly preparing to leave OR Tambo International Airport via Fireblade's terminal when X-ray scanners picked up what appeared to be a parcel of diamonds.

It has been widely reported that the Guptas and Fireblade terminated their relationship.

Black First Land First activists were forcibly removed by bouncers from a Parliament meeting on Tuesday morning when they physically confronted Fireblade Aviation chairperson Nicky Oppenheimer during his submission to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs.

BLF also announced its intention to lodge fraud, bribery and corruption complaints with police against Nicky and Jonathan Oppenheimer over the circumstances surrounding Fireblade.

Nonetheless, Mngxitama said BLF had a "very friendly engagement" with the Oppenheimers.

Nicky Oppenheimer did not appear concerned about the engagements at the time either. "Such is life. That is what a democracy is all about. I just think it’s unsatisfactory to have that kind of thing happen in Parliament. But it doesn’t faze me. Sticks and stones. All we ask for is a level playing field. Everybody must be treated the same and however you do it, that’s fine," he told Fin24 earlier in the week. 

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