Justice Raymond Zondo, who heads the commission of inquiry into state capture. File photo: Karen Sandison / African News Agency (ANA).
Justice Raymond Zondo, who heads the commission of inquiry into state capture. File photo: Karen Sandison / African News Agency (ANA).

LIVE FEED: State Capture Inquiry July 26, 2019

By Staff reporter Time of article published Jul 26, 2019

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Johannesburg - The commission of inquiry into state capture will on Friday continue hearing testimony related to the botched Estina Dairy Farm project from Vrede businessman Willie Basson.

The commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, will also hear testimony from former National Treasury director Dumisani Cele, and the Agricultural Economists's David Andreas Maree.

On Thursday, the commission heard that the Gupta-linked project, described as a scam, would have cost almost R1 billion. 

Former DA councillor in the Phumelela Local Municipality, Doctor Radebe told the commission that the project was first presented in 2012.

He claimed then Free State agriculture and rural development MEC Mosebenzi Zwane and his senior officials including former head Peter Thabede, hijacked a council meeting to present the plan, which would have seen the provincial government pumping R400million and the Gupta-linked Estina raising R500m, according to Radebe.

He said Zwane’s department was prepared to fork out R100m a year for three years until it got off the ground.

Another R100m would be shared among the 100 earmarked beneficiaries, who would each receive R1m.

Radebe said councillors were told that Estina would inject R500m through Indian dairy company Paras, which was its partner in the project that later cost R570m.

“This thing was a bit of a scam, they just threw in figures,” he said.

Estina, whose only director Kamal Vasram, a former employee of the Guptas’ Sahara Computers, had planned to invest R228m in the dairy farm project, while the provincial government would invest R342m.

Radebe said there was no business plan presented to councillors and he warned his former colleagues that they would get into trouble if they approved the project.

He also asked how they would identify beneficiaries and the criteria they would use.

Radebe said he told fellow councillors that the project must not benefit ANC members. At the time the project was planned, the 4400-hectare Krynaauwslust farm in Vrede owned by the municipality had been leased to neighbouring farmers.

“The lease with commercial farmers was less than a year old,” Radebe said.

He said Zwane and his entourage never told council how they identified the land and that, procedurally, they should have written to the municipality before hijacking the meeting.

“They just hijacked a council meeting, the matter was not on the agenda,” said Radebe, adding that no records exist of the meeting.

The opposition only had three of the ANC-governed municipality’s 15 councillors and they were asked to delay meeting for two hours.

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