The commission was expected to hear testimony related to the project today from Seipati Dhlamini, who is the former Chief Financial Officer of the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Her legal team, however, announced that Dhlamini had to quarantine herself as she's been exposed to Covid-19 affected relatives and requested for a postponement.
Dhlamini is currently facing charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering of over R244 million in connection with the project. Last month she was, together with her co-accused Malikomo Mohapi, released on R10 000 bail by the Bloemfontein Regional Court following their arrests in connection with the project.
The Hawks spokesperson, Katlego Mogale, confirmed the 55-year-old Mohapi is a sole director of Rekgonne Community Projects - a company which entered into an agreement with the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2014 to implement all projects on behalf of the department for a period of two years. She confirmed preliminary investigations into the case indicates financial irregularities and large amounts deposited into Rekgonne Community Projects' account between January 2012 and December 2016, as well as into the 49-year-old Dhlamini's bank account.
OFM News previously reported that over R220 million, earmarked for this project to assist upcoming farmers in Vrede, was looted from the province without any intended beneficiaries seeing a single cent.
Testimonies by intended beneficiaries and former accounting officer Peter Thabethe, before the Commission last year indicated how millions were paid into the Gupta-linked company, Estina, upfront without any work being done or services rendered.
The commission last year further heard how Estina’s account only had a balance of just over R16 on 4 July 2012, days before the provincial government deposited an amount of R30 million into the account, and how the department also paid millions into the Estina account without conducting a proper feasibility study nor drawing up a proper business plan for the project.
Whilst the Commission is set to determine the date for Dhlamini's next appearance, she is expected to appear before the Bloemfontein High Court on September 10 to face criminal charges against her.