Commission of Inquiry into State Capture chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: ANA/Karen Sandison.
Commission of Inquiry into State Capture chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: ANA/Karen Sandison.

Former Free State government CFO's testimony at Zondo commission postponed due to quarantine protocol

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Aug 14, 2020

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Johannesburg - A former Free State department official's testimony has been postponed at the Zondo commission as she has been forced into quarantine.

Seipati Dlamini's legal representative, Harshila Kooverjie SC, told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo her client had come into contact with a few members of her family who had recently tested positive for the coronavirus.

Her medical doctor recommended she be placed in quarantine until August 23.

Zondo acknowledged the commission was pressed for time as hearings should be wrapped up by December, but was forced to postpone Dlamini's evidence. She is one of the last witnesses scheduled to appear on the Vrede dairy farm project matter.

A new date for her appearance will be scheduled.

Dlamini is the former chief financial officer at the Free State department of agriculture and rural development. She was expected to face questions regards the millions spent by her department on the Vrede dairy farm project.

The project was meant to up-lift black emerging farmers, but little of funds went towards the project. It was reported that some of the funds meant for the project were distributed to various Gupta-linked bank accounts.

Last year, the commission heard from Former Free State department head Peter Thabethe.

He had headed the department of agriculture and played a key role in the appointment of Estina, a Gupta-linked company, as a partner for the government in the Vrede dairy farm project.

Advocate Leah Gcabashe led Thabethe in the questioning regarding how aware was his office of the possible misuse of funds. In reports submitted by Estina to the department, it was found that some of the funds were misused. Approximately $5 million was paid to a company called Gateway for a feasibility study.

Further investigations and site visits by some government officials found the study was inadequately done and would need to be redone. Thabethe said he relied on his juniors to approve reports supplied by Estina and that he was not aware of everything.

Gcabashe and commission chair Deputy Chief Raymond Zondo questioned Thabethe on why they did not question Estina on its use of such a large sum of money to pay consultants. Gcabashe said it implied a lack of care of how government money was spent.

"Should you as the department not have commissioned a feasibility study before hiring Estina," Zondo asked.

Thabethe said his department was satisfied with the feasibility study provided by Estina, this is even after he was presented with a report that showed the feasibility study conducted by Estina was badly done.

The commission will resume on Monday to continuing hearing evidence from former Prasa board chairperson Judge Nana Makhubele.


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