After last month complaining that authorities were not investigating the alleged business crimes of so-called “white monopoly capital” (WMC), deregistered political party Black First Land First (BLF) said over the weekend that elite police unit the Hawks are now finally investigating their complaint against the Oppenheimer family, nearly a year after charges were laid.
Last month the party accused the Hawks of being a tool for “shady organisations”.
“BLF now believes that cases against white WMC are never investigated,” said deputy leader Zanele Lwana.
However, they said on Friday that they had been contacted by an investigating officer from the Hawks on their case against the “wealthiest family in South Africa”, and that they now finally had a case number.
“Up until yesterday, BLF was never given an update of progress in the matter. It was not even given the most basic information, namely the case number. Without condoning the bad service delivery in this case, we are now pleased to have received the case number and the name of the investigating officer.”
Their case relates to the Oppenheimers running a private terminal through their Fireblade Aviation company at OR Tambo International Airport.
Former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba was found by the courts last year to have lied under oath about the terminal, which contributed to him resigning from cabinet in November. He also declined an opportunity to return to parliament following the May elections.
The Constitutional Court last year dismissed his appeal against a high court ruling that he had perjured himself when testifying in a case filed by Fireblade Aviation.
Fireblade alleged that Gigaba had reneged on an undertaking to grant it their private immigration terminal at OR Tambo – a decision the minister then disavowed. Fireblade took Gigaba to court in 2016 after he rejected the company’s application to operate their luxury terminal.
The Oppenheimers alleged that the then influential Gupta family had put pressure on Gigaba to reverse his approval in an alleged attempt to take over the terminal themselves.
BLF leader Andile Mngxitama has fiercely defended the Gupta family over the years.
The party’s statement on Friday alleged: “The so-called Fireblade Aviation conducts business aviation. This unlawful conduct emanates from the fact that the Oppenheimers went to Luthuli House to get preferential treatment. It was the African National Congress, not the government, which gave the Oppenheimers prior permission to use the terminal after both Jonathan and Nicky Oppenheimer had gone to meet them.”
The Oppenheimers have long dismissed any notion that they had acted improperly with regards to the terminal, and they won their case against government regarding the dispute.
The BLF said it was also concerned that recent media revelations that the Oppenheimers had funded the CR17 election campaign of President Cyril Ramaphosa allegedly explained the “reluctance” of the police to make progress in the matter.
“We are concerned that the Hawks would be under duress not to investigate the matter.
“BLF wants to see this matter to its finality. In the event that the National Prosecuting Authority chooses not to prosecute the Oppenheimer family, BLF will pursue the route of private prosecution.”
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)