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

Johannesburg - The former Free State agriculture department head is expected to face more tough questions at the Zondo commission regarding the Vrede dairy farm project.

Peter Thabethe took the stand on Thursday. 

He faced questions regarding the Vrede project and why an Indian company was chosen to assist the project in Vrede. 

Thabethe was asked about the creation of the project which at first involved a partnership with a company called Paras Dairy, which is based in India. He said he did “desktop research” on the best dairy producing companies around the world. He said they settled with Paras because the company was run in a similar environment like South Africa. 
 
He insisted that the decision to choose India’s, Paras Dairy, was the best. 
 
Commission chair deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo did not seem convinced by Thabethe’s reasoning why Paras was chosen. 

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“I remain concerned about the quality of the desktop research that you conducted. Particularly because when the office of Treasury asked you for the information you had relied on, you were not able to produce them,” evidence leader Advocate Leah Gcabashe said. 
 
Thabethe said: “I do not dispute the report, the commercial ventures that they (high ranked dairy-producing countries) is different from what we wanted to do. There they are doing big turnovers, our situation was that we would not get to that level of production. We wanted to assist smallholders". 
 
“We were comparing a country (India) which was similar to us. That’s what we looked at and said they would be similar to us.

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