Takisi Janki Masiteng, Ronica Raghavan and Varun Gupta are among eight suspects who appeared at the Bloemfontein Magistrate's court in connection with charges of fraud and corruption related to the controversial Vrede dairy farm project. Picture: Matthews Baloyi/African News Agency (ANA)

Bloemfontein - Eight suspects linked to the Gupta brothers will be back in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Friday to face fraud and corruption case in which more than R200 million was allegedly defrauded from the Estina Diary Farm in Free State. 

Former Oakbay CEO Nazeem Howa, Varun Gupta, the nephew of the Gupta brothers, Oakbay, former Sahara Computers CEO Ashu Chawla, Estina director Kamal Vasram and three Free State provincial government officials Peter Thabethe, Sylvia Dlamini and Takisi Masiteng will make their first appearance in court. 

All the accused were arrested and released in February on bail ranging from R10 000 and R200 000. 

They face charges of fraud, theft, conspiracy to commit fraud and theft, contravening the Public Finance Management Act, contravening the Companies Act and contravening sections of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

The matter is linked to a Free State government dairy project awarded to the company Estina‚ under which the dodgy Gupta-linked Vrede Dairy farm project was conducted.

 Millions of rand meant for poverty alleviation are thought to have been syphoned off and partly used to fund a lavish Gupta wedding.

The charges relate to how more than R200 million earmarked to benefit more than 100 emerging farmers through the Estina project was allegedly swindled in 2013 and ended up in various accounts owned and operated by the Gupta family. 

It is alleged that at least R30 million of this money paid for a lavish wedding at Sun City for Gupta relatives the same year. 

The Gupta brothers, who are close associates of former president Jacob Zuma and his son Duduzane, have previously been accused of using undue influence to persuade top government officials to award their companies lucrative contracts. 

African News Agency/ANA