The fraud and corruption case in connection to the R280 million Estina Dairy Farm project has been transferred to the Bloemfontein High Court from the Bloemfontein Regional Court, on Wednesday.
Former Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane is among the accused that appeared in court.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority Investigating Directorate (NPA ID) spokesperson, Sindisiwe Seboka, the accused face charges of contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), fraud, corruption and money laundering emanating from the “alleged looting of the Free State Department of Agriculture through a company called Estina”.
Seboka explained that in 2012, Estina and the Free State Agriculture Department entered into an agreement to establish and implement a dairy farm project for the benefit of emerging and previously disadvantaged farmers in the Vrede area.
“In terms of the agreement, Estina was to provide a capital injection of R228 million. Paras Dairy – a company incorporated in India – was presented as Estina’s partner in the Vrede Dairy Project.
“The agreement further stipulated that the department was to contribute R342 million including VAT over a period of three years. Estina received R280 million from July 2012 to April 2014.
“Investigations also revealed that no proper tender procedures were followed with regards the decision to fund the proposed Vrede Dairy Project. Estina did not adhere to its obligations in terms of the agreement as only the department paid its contribution into bank accounts held by Estina,” Seboka said.
The accused are expected to next appear in the Bloemfontein High Court on 25 January 2023.