Desperate Oppenheimers will use anything to get port of entry into SA, Why?

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By Pinky Khoabane

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The Oppenheimers rank among the top two or three wealthiest families in South Africa having made their ill-gotten money off the blood of Africans here and surrounding countries in diamond mines….But they want more…a porous international entry point into South Africa for the rich that puts this country at risk of illicit diamonds, human trafficking, armaments, drugs and much more…says Pinky Khoabane

 

If the Sunday Times report on the battle over an international terminal at OR Tambo International is anything to be believed, the Oppenheimer’s Fireblade Aviation (Pty) Ltd already knew about the Gupta’s interest in their business at the time of filing court papers against Denel’s objection to its application for an international entry port.

Fireblade lodged a court application against Denel in the Gauteng High Court in February 2016 and said nothing about a Gupta-link and yet its Director, Robert David Irons, is reported in the Sunday Times as having met a pilot in November 2015 who allegedly relayed a message from one of the Gupta family members asserting their interest in the 7-star operation.

The Sunday Times article, again if it is to be believed, claims that Irons said “the first Gupta pilot had come to see me in November 2015 bearing a message he said he had been asked to relay by Tony (Rajesh) Gupta”. The paper says the message from Tony was simply that Fireblade needed to change its BEE partner and the family would ensure that the international port of entry would be approved. This BEE partner, according to the pilot’s understanding was or had to be “associated to the Gupta family”.

In its application against Denel’s objection to Fireblade’s non-compliance to security rules guiding a National Key Point, Irons is emphatic in his replying affidavit and I quote point 10:18:

“Prior to receipt of a telephone call on 9 February 2016 from the DHA (Department of Home Affairs) advising that Denel had (completely contrary to its stance in its 12 January 2016 letter) again objected to the Application, Fireblade held the reasonable view that finalisation and granting of the Application was imminent (I emphasise that once again, Denel raised no issue with Fireblade before renewing its objection). As such, contrary to the picture painted by Denel in its answering affidavit, prior to 9 February 2016, there was no reason for Fireblade to launch its urgent application. It did so within a reasonable time after 9 February 2016”.

The conclusion therefore is that: Until 9 February 2016, Oppenheimers despite allegedly knowing the Guptas alleged interest in the operation, didn’t mention it.

Fireblade, through Irons states again, very emphatically in his replying affidavit Point 11: “The trigger event for this application is patently the telephone call from the DHA on 9 February 2016 in which Fireblade was advised of a further objection to its Application by Denel, in clear breach of the contractual obligation”.

Again its application didnt have anything to do with the Pilot (1 or 2).

The issue of contractual obligations will have to be finalised in a court of law.

But, why not use Pilot 1’s claims to prove there is something beyond Denel’s Objection which has to do with another rival’s interest in the business?

The timing of bringing-in the Guptas into the case is curious. Until the State Capture Report whose basis into an enquiry was based on media reports, Fireblade was hamstrung. But it is a field day now. Make assertions in the media and hope the Commission into State Capture picks up that media article (and it definitely will) and have your unsubstantiated claims “investigated”

My Questions to Denel & Fireblade which went unanswered at the time of filing this report:

To Denel’s Chairman;

(1) How was Fireblade chosen to become the operator of this business?

(2) Was there a tender issued and if yes, who were the other contenders for the operation?

(3) If there was no tender, what criteria was used to award the business to Fireblade?

(4) In the original heads of arguments, Fireblade had solely blamed Denel but it emerges they are now blaming the Guptas, according to a Sunday Times report. What’s your comment?

(5) Denel has always maintained Fireblade had not complied with security measures and minutes of meetings and emails at which the issue of security was raised were attached in court papers. What is your comment?

(6) One of the curious questions was always why Fireblade wasnt taking the Minister of Home Affairs to seek relief but rather Denel, which had no powers to approve the application. What is your comment?

(7) The Sunday Times story speaks of a BEE partner of Fireblade’s, surely in appointing Fireblade, the BEE status of a company should be taken into consideration. Who are the BEE partners of Fireblade?

 

To Fireblade:

 

(1) How was Fireblade chosen to become the operator of this business?

 

(2) Was there a tender issued and if yes, who were the other contenders for the operation?

 

(3) If there was no tender, what criteria was used to award the operation to Fireblade?

 

(4) In the original heads of arguments, Fireblade had solely blamed Denel but it emerges they are now blaming the Guptas, according to a Sunday Times report. What’s your comment?

 

(5) Denel has always maintained Fireblade had not complied with security measures and minutes of meetings and emails at which the issue of security was raised were attached in court papers. As at 25 October 2015, Fireblade had still not complied with security requirements. To this effect I refer to you email to Diedericks’s email:

 

“As per our discussions this morning, kindly be advised that we acknowledge the new security criteria presented to you by Denel security. Please assure your colleagues at Denel that Fireblade will endeavour to comply (as it is always our policy to do so), but it is a process (internally noting) the exorbitant cost implications involved”.

(6) As per point (5) indicates and as you would have known, there were many incidents in which the issue of your non-compliance was raised in meetings. Did you raise this point with the Sunday Times and if not, why not?

(6) You mention the exorbitant amount for security compliance. Kindly give me a break-down of this amount.

 

(7) How many staff members do you have working for Fireblade and have you now complied  with security measures as required by the National Key Points Act?

 

(8) Why have you only now served papers on Minister of Home Affairs when Denel questioned why you didnt in February? In their court papers it questioned why you served papers on it, when only the DHA had the powers to approve Fireblade’s application?

 

(9) Who is Fireblade’s BEE partner?

 

(10) Please confirm details of the Sunday Times story on the two pilots. Are these details contained in your court application against Denel?

 

(11) In court papers against Denel, you mention that “Fireblade received a strong indication from the DHA that the application had been approved’. Can you elaborate on this. What is the “indication?”

 

(12) Is an “indication” the same as an approval?

 

(13) Clarify this please regarding your affidavit:

 

13.1 – You received a message from pilot 1 from a Gupta family in November 2015 and in January 2016, Denel had “unreservedly confirmed its support for the FBO Project and invited the DHA to grant the application”.

13.2 The understanding of the approval was “confirmed at its meeting with the DHA on 28 January 2016”

13.3 In 11, in your replying affidavit you say “the trigger event for this application is patently the telephone call from DHA on 9 February 2016 in which Fireblade was advised of a further objection to its application” – Did the message of November 2015 from the Pilot not concern you

  1. In your application, lodged when you already had information from the pilot 1 (if the Sunday Times story is accurate), you dont mention it at all. Instead your reasons lie purely in  Denel’s objection to the application for an international port. Why didnt you use this information as proof of a sinister motive behind Denel’s Objection?
  1. Do you agree that by the time Fireblade launched court papers against Denel, the DHA had not made any final decisions. Yes or no?

 

 

1 Comment on "Desperate Oppenheimers will use anything to get port of entry into SA, Why?"

  1. As I eagerly awaits the comments to these questions.

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