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 - The Bloemfontein Regional Court on Tuesday granted the State a postponement in the Estina dairy farm fraud case. 

The postponement was granted on the grounds that the State had presented sufficient reasons to warrant a postponement. The matter was postponed to December 4, 2018.

Magistrate Collin Nekosi, handing down the ruling, went over both the State and defence's arguments before ruling that the matter required further investigation.

Last week, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had asked for a postponement for three to six months as it said evidence was still being gathered for strengthening their case. 

Advocate Justice Bakamela told Nekosi the case was being delayed by trying to extradite information for the UAE and India. 

He said the State was not sitting doing anything for the past six months, but much progress had been made. 

Bakamela motivated for the postponement saying they had obtained 104 statements from witnesses in Gauteng, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. And 310 bank statements have been obtained. 

Advocate Mike Hellens, representing four of the accused, meanwhile opposed the State's request, saying that the State had arrested his clients prematurely knowing that they had not gathered proper evidence to support their case. 

All eight accused were present in court when the ruling was handed down.  

This included Varun Gupta, a nephew of the Gupta brothers, Oakbay CEO Ronica Ragavan. Ashu Chawla a former Sahara executive, Estina director Kamal Vasram and former The New Age editor Nazeem Howa. Three Free State government officials, Peter Thabethe, Sylvia Dlamini and Takisi Masiteng were also charged.

The group was charged with a string of crimes which include fraud, theft, conspiracy to commit fraud and theft. The charges relate to the infamous Estina dairy farm project where millions of rands destined for poor farmers were allegedly swindled by the Gupta family. 

They are all out on bail.