Picture: ANA

Bloemfontein - Eight people are appearing in the Bloemfontein Regional Court on Thursday in connection with the Estina dairy farm project scandal in Vrede, in the Free State. 

The list of accused,  who 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, in the case also includes three companies. 

The 11 accused are:

1. Peter Thabethe, Head of the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

2. Selpate Dlamini, CFO for the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

3. Dr Takisi Janki Masiteng, former general manager for District Services for Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

4. Estina, company

5. Kamal Vasrun, former director of Estina

6. Oakbay Investments, company

7. Ashu Chawla, director of Oakbay Investments

8. Nazeem Howa, former director of Oakbay Investments

9. Verun Gupta, former director of Oakbay Investments

10. Ronica Ragovan, director at Tegeta 

11. AeroHaven, company.

The court appearance comes after the Hawks made arrests in Gauteng and North West.

On Wednesday Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed that a raid at the Gupta family mansion, Saxonwold, was in connection with the Estina Farm investigation and that three people, including one Gupta family member, was arrested.

The Estina project was meant to benefit emerging black farmers but it has been alleged that government officials colluded with the Gupta family to divert around R30 million funds to the family. 

The funds, allegedly syphoned from the dairy farm project, is widely believed to have bankrolled the lavish wedding of Vega Gupta at Sun City.

Former president Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane is allegedly also being sought by the Hawks after they reportedly did not find him at his home two blocks from the Gupta compound when they went to arrest him. 

Duduzane is a director of one of the Gupta companies, Westdawn Investments, which also allegedly syphoned off money from the farm project.