Duduzane hunted over dairy farm fraud links
He is being sought for his alleged role in the fraud scandal at the Estina Farm dairy at Vrede in the Free State, which saw politicians and businesspeople pocketing millions of rand from the project that was earmarked for emerging black farmers.
This is according to sources within the security cluster.
“We have been told Mr X (Duduzane) is on the warrants obtained but he has not been located as yet,” said the source, who was reluctant to call Duduzane by his name.
One of Duduzane’s alleged accomplices in the Gupta family, Atul, had apparently tried to evade arrest by skipping the country but his attempt to flee was foiled when the pilot refused to fly the private jet at Lanseria Airport, on the west of Joburg, according to sources.
“The information we have is that Atul may have tried to escape the country this morning (yesterday). The pilot refused to pilot (the plane),” said another source.
Atul and Ajay - the elder of the three Gupta brothers - were negotiating to hand themselves over to the elite crime unit, according to sources.
Independent Media understands that Atul's younger brother Tony - also known as Rajesh - was arrested yesterday during the dramatic raid at the family compound.
“Tony is in (arrest). Atul is negotiating to come in through his attorneys,” said the source, adding that an unidentified business associate of the Guptas was also nabbed in Gauteng.
They were among the five people who were nabbed in connection with the Estina dairy farm project scandal. Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said: “Two (arrests) were made there (at the Gupta homestead), one in Gauteng and two in Free State, bringing the number to five. We’re expecting to make two more arrests.”
The suspects face charges of fraud, money laundering and corruption, he said.
Among those arrested in the Free State is the provincial HOD of Agriculture, Peter Thabethe.
Independent Media understands that the Hawks are now on the hunt for Duduzane Zuma, after they could not find him at his property that is located about two blocks from the Gupta compound. Duduzane is a director of one of the Gupta companies, Westdawn Investments, which also allegedly siphoned off money from the farm project.
Duduzane’s attorney, Gary Mazaham, wouldn't be drawn to comment on the matter. Ahmed Gani, lawyer for the Guptas, denied it was any of the Gupta brothers arrested at the home.
The Gupta brothers were alleged to have irregularly pocketed R220m from the Free State provincial government, to be pumped into the dairy farm.
The money was allocated to benefit emerging black farmers. The NPA's Asset Forfeiture Unit has revealed that only R2m was spent on the farm.
The Estina project was among those flagged by former public protector Thuli Madonsela in her State of Capture Report in 2014.
Last week, Public Protector Advocate Busi Mkhwebane found that the R220m tender given to Estina Dairy company was awarded irregularly, without following the prescripts of government procurement policy. She said the contract clearly benefited Estina at the cost of the state, taxpayers and beneficiaries.
As part of their probe, the Hawks had two weeks ago raided offices of Free State Premier Ace Magashule, who’s also ANC secretary-general, and the provincial office Department of Agriculture last month.
After months of investigations, the Hawks pounced on the Guptas and their alleged associates yesterday.
Shortly after 8am yesterday, a group of officers from the elite crime-busting unit were seen leaving with two men after their raid at the Guptas' home. The pair were driven away in a private vehicle with tinted windows.
This was the culmination of a sting operation that started at about 6am.
Two marked Golf GTIs belonging to the Hawks were parked outside the homestead. The vehicles sped off behind the private vehicle with the arrested pair.
A group of officers, some in police gear, were also in this car.
The suspects were due to appear in the Bloemfontein Specialised Commercial Crimes Court later today.