Picture: NPA Investigating Directorate
Picture: NPA Investigating Directorate

Estina dairy case back in court for bail hearing against two accused

By Ntombi Nkosi Time of article published Jun 3, 2021

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Johannesburg - The Estina dairy case is back in court for a bail hearing against two of the accused with the National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigative Directorate indicating more arrests were imminent against some of the people implicated.

The R287 million Estina Dairy case is far from being over as more arrests are imminent. The case was adjourned on Thursday morning with the bail hearing to continue in the afternoon.

A businessman, who is a key Gupta lieutenant, Iqbal Sharma, 54, and three former Free State agriculture department officials Peter Thabethe, 55, Dr Limakatso Moorosi, 58, and Seipati Dlamini, 49, appeared at the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court, led by Magistrate Estelle de Lange.

Two of the four accused, Moorosi and Dlamini, are returning to court this afternoon for bail application, while the other two accused, Sharma and Thabethe will spend the weekend behind bars as they are expected to return to court on Monday for a formal bail hearing.

The four accused were arrested on Wednesday in Gauteng and the Free State. They were charged with alleged corruption in a project linked to the Estina Dairy Farm project.

The charge sheet shows 11 names including Atul Gupta, Rajesh Kumar Gupta, Chetali Gupta and Arti Gupta.

NPA’s Investigating Directive spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said they expected the defence to be ready for the bail hearing to bring forward the application and if it is opposed, they will have to make the submissions.

“We have made it clear to the defence that we do plan to oppose bail for the accused before court today for a number of reasons,” said Seboka.

She said the fifth person’s arrest is imminent after the individual had been notified that they would have to report to the nearest police station..

“He was out of town; we were not able to arrest him on time, but he is aware and he should make his way to this court soon. However in terms of the other accused we can confirm that [for] a number of people, there are extradition talks from the UAE as well as India. Those include Atul Gupta, his wife and various other accused whom we believe played a pivotal role in the scheme and defrauding the people of Free State.

“We must also add that this particular case is in Estina as anticipated by people; however this is the (precursal) opening act. This is over a R24 million feasibility study that was done to determine whether or not the agricultural project Mohoma-Mobung would be successful.

“In this feasibility study, conducted over a six month period, significant payments were made though not a lot of work done. Through our investigation, we learned that R1.5 million was subcontracted by a prominent firm doing the very same study. Money was taken out for absolutely nothing,” said Seboka.

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Political Bureau

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