CentralSA#StateCapture: Free State corruption exposed
─── LUCKY NKUYANE 06:50 Thu, 23 Jun 2022
The Free State's failed R250 million Vrede Dairy Farm project has been featured in the fifth and sixth report of the Commission into State Capture.
The chair of the commission and Chief Justice Raymond Zondo confirmed that the alleged corruption is covered in the latest instalment.
Zondo handed over the bundles of the reports to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday night at the Union building. The commission heard different damning testimonies about how taxpayers' money was swindled and looted from provincial coffers - and allegedly given to the notorious Gupta family.
Former Free State MECs for Agriculture, including Mosebenzi Zwane and Mamiki Qabathe, amongst other alleged roleplayers, were implicated by the DA leader in the province and member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL), Roy Jankielson.
He once told Zondo that among a few officials who allegedly allowed the massive mismanagement of funds meant to develop upcoming farmers in Vrede, was Qabathe and Zwane. In 2019, Jankielsonh told the State Capture Commission how Qabathe implemented some projects after taking over from Zwane.
The Zondo Commission also heard how Estina’s account had just over R16, days before the provincial government deposited the first R30 million into its account.
Currently, seven suspects, including a Gupta lieutenant, Iqbal Sharma; the former Head of the Department (HOD) of Agriculture, Limakatso Moorosi; and former Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Seipati Dhlamini, are facing, among others, corruption charges in relation to the Vrede adjacent case.
According to the Investigative Directorate spokesperson, Sindisiwe Seboka, the matter pertains to procurement fraud involving R24,9 million paid between November 2011 and April 2012 by the Free State Department of Agriculture to Nulane Investment 204 (PTY) LTD - a company owned and controlled by Sharma.
From there the funds were diverted to Islandsite Investments 180 (Pty) Ltd (Islandsite). The R24,9 million was paid to Nulane purportedly to conduct a feasibility study for the Free State’s flagship Mohoma Mobung project, on the basis that Nulane had unique skills to perform the work.
In 2011, the Free State Agriculture Department paid almost R25 million to Nulane Investments, which was owned by former Transnet board member, Iqbal Sharma, for the Vrede feasibility study. Nulane – represented by Sharma’s brother-in-law Dinesh Patel – then negotiated and subcontracted the same feasibility study to forensic auditing firm, Deloitte, for R1,5 million.