The judicial commission of inquiry into state capture is expected to continue with testimony related to the Gupta-linked Estina dairy farm project in Vrede, in the Free State.
(Courtesy of SABC)
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Mosebenzi Zwane hijacked council meeting to present Vrede dairy farm proposal, state capture inquiry hears
Former Free State Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Mosebenzi Zwane hijacked a council meeting in the Phumelela municipality to present a proposal on the Vrede dairy farm project, the state capture commission of inquiry heard on Thursday.
“It was supposed to be an ordinary council meeting in the morning the then MEC, Zwane, came with his crew from the department where they asked us to delay the council for two hours so that they can present us with a proposal from the department to use the land for agricultural purposes,” former DA councillor Doctor Radebe said.
Radebe was referring to a council meeting on June 19, 2012.
The commission has focused its attention of the controversial Estina dairy farm project in Vrede in the Free State. One hundred black emerging farmers were promised five cows each as part of the empowerment scheme.
Gifted to Estina in 2013 under a free 99-year lease by the Department of Agriculture in the province, the farm has been one of the most controversial transactions between the Guptas and a government entity, News24 earlier reported.
State capture witness claims Vrede cops turned him away when he reported harassment from Zwane’s ‘personal force’
The Vrede police station in the Free State has been called out yet again for ignoring political cases relating to the Gupta-linked Estina dairy farm project, the state capture commission of inquiry heard on Thursday.
Former DA councillor Doctor Radebe was attacked by a group of people he referred to as “[former agriculture MEC] Mosebenzi Zwane’s personal force” after he reported that cattle carcasses had been dumped at a stream in Vrede.
“I alerted the Department of Environmental Affairs after I reported the dairy carcasses. It caught the attention of Parliament itself. People around Vrede became so violent. They were angry at me because I reported the matter in the press.”
I didn’t sign off on Estina dairy farm project, former govt dept head tells Zondo commission
The acting head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State was not consulted about a document proposing the establishment of the Estina Dairy Farm Project, the commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Wednesday.
“I did not sign the submission because I believed at that time I was not even around, as there was a stage I was out of the country,” said Dr Tankisi Masiteng.
Masiteng was referring to a document submitted on May 26, 2012, with the purpose of attaining approval for the proposal to enter a partnership with Estina for a dairy project in Vrede, Free State.
The document in question had a signature above Masiteng’s name, who was serving as a chief director in the department at the time.
Hawks did not investigate death threats, Estina beneficiary tells state capture inquiry
Death threats aimed at Estina dairy farm project beneficiary Ephraim Dhlamini were not investigated by the Hawks, the state capture commission of inquiry heard on Wednesday.
These threats were made shortly after the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) visited the project in the Free State and closed it down, the commission heard.
“They did not inform me that they were coming and that they were looking for me. Next thing I heard, Vrede police were looking for me.
‘I do not trust the Public Protector’ – Estina dairy farm project beneficiary
A beneficiary of the controversial Estina dairy farm project in Vrede in the Free State says he still does not trust Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
“We (beneficiaries and I) got to a point where we did not trust her. I did not trust her as a person anymore. Even to this day, I do not trust her,” Ephraim Dhlamini told the state capture commission of inquiry on Wednesday.
Dhlamini’s evidence put the spotlight on the Gupta-linked project, in which one hundred black emerging farmers were promised five cows each as part of an empowerment scheme.
Estina dairy project: State capture hears how Zwane took church choir to India instead of beneficiaries
The judicial commission of inquiry into state capture has heard how bold promises were made to beneficiaries of the collapsed Gupta-linked Vrede dairy project, but nothing ever materialised.
On Tuesday, Ephraim Dhlamini, one of the project’s beneficiaries, told the Zondo commission farmers were promised trips to India for training and cattle to kickstart the project.
Instead, the former agriculture MEC in the Free State, Mosebenzi Zwane, sent members of his church choir for training, he claimed.
Dhlamini said Zwane’s father was a pastor and in charge of the choir, adding it had to cut its trip short because its members all had diarrhoea while in India.
Estina farm project: State capture inquiry hears how legislature failed the people of the Free State
The judicial commission of inquiry into state capture has heard how the Gupta-linked Vrede dairy farm project was a classic example of how the provincial legislature and its committees failed the people of the Free State.
On Monday, Roy Jankielsohn, a member of the Free State legislature, told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo when the alleged irregularities in the project took place, the committee chairperson “blocked opposition members’ attempts to probe these issues”.
He said when opposition members in the legislature raised the issue they were “ridiculed and insulted by the governing party” in attempts to deviate from those issues.
Free State govt continues to fund collapsed Vrede dairy farm project R20m annually, state capture inquiry hears
The Free State government continues to fund the collapsed Vrede dairy farm project to the tune of R20m a year, the judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture heard on Monday.
This after Estina, an IT company, withdrew from the project in August 2014, and the project was taken over by the Free State Development Corporation, said Roy Jankielsohn, a member of the Free State legislature.
Jankielsonhn said the Free State Development Corporation was set up to stimulate economic growth in the province.
Beneficiaries of collapsed Estina dairy farm project still sidelined, state capture inquiry hears
A member of the Free State legislature, Roy Jankielsohn, has detailed how beneficiaries of the collapsed Gupta-linked Estina dairy farm project are still being sidelined.
Jankielsohn was testifying before the judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture on Monday.
He told inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo the beneficiaries’ exclusion was “very strange” to him, adding government projects should benefit beneficiaries on the ground.
“Many Vrede residents are poor, there’s huge unemployment and people were hoping that this project would bring some relief to at least 80 people who were identified as beneficiaries, and unfortunately, they are still sidelined.
“Chairperson, the beneficiaries are the most important people in this project. They are the ones who are supposed to benefit from this project by receiving some sort of livelihood from it and meaningful employment.”