Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba came out swinging against allegations that he lied about the Fireblade saga, dismissing them as "untested" and "inconsistent with the facts".
In a meeting that appeared to start out talking itself in circles, Gigaba got a 20-minute window of opportunity, which he used to claim that the only lies in the Fireblade dispute were those conjured to unduly sink his career.
Pressure is mounting for Gigaba to quit or for President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire the minister. Not only has Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane directed Ramaphosa to discipline Gigaba for lying under oath, but the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has since approached the courts for relief in this order.
Winding down to the beginning of the course of events which led to Fireblade Aviation operating a private air traffic terminal at OR Tambo International Airport, Gigaba sought to rubbish details in the story of how he allegedly agreed to the terminal.
"Before Constitutional Court and SCA [the Supreme Court of Appeal], there was not a question of whether I lied to court on not. It was a question of whether I approved the agreement or not.
"The lies will be explained later. These allegations have been made in a very calculated way to influence the decision pertaining to this issue, even though they are immaterial," said Gigaba.
Gigaba said the claim that a pilot – while flying a plane – overheard a conversation alluding to him approving a terminal "does not stand in any probability" and that such an allegation "is not tested".
"A story was deliberately told which was not in the affidavit. This story told to newspapers was that on a flight, two gentlemen were talking, and one said he would talk to Minister Gigaba. Minister Gigaba was not on the flight," Gigaba said.
Gigaba said if the oral evidence presented to MPs were rigorously tested, "as opposed to running with information from emails", anyone would realise that there were "material inconsistencies between the claims made the facts that have been presented".
Committee member for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi objected to any further submission on the Fireblade matter. Mkhaliphi slammed Gigaba as a "Constitutional delinquent" and said the only proper response from him was to either resign or let Ramaphosa fire him.
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