High court to rule on public protector’s ‘whitewashed’ Estina dairy report

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Photo by African News Agency (ANA).

The North Gauteng High Court will on Monday rule on an application to set aside Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report on the Estina diary farm project in Vrede, Free State.

The court application was brought by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac).

The DA believes Mkhwebane’s investigative report of the farm project was a “whitewash” as implicated politicians were never interviewed and thus escaped scrutiny.

At least R200 million in public funds meant for emerging black farmers in Vrede allegedly flowed to Estina, a company linked to the controversial Gupta family.

Some of the money was allegedly used to pay for the Guptas’ lavish family wedding at Sun City resort in 2013.

The parties argued in October last year that Mkhwebane had not acted prudently in her probe and had failed to investigate senior politicians implicated in corruption and money-laundering that sank the agriculture project.

Mkhwebane rubbished claims that she sanitised a provisional report on the Estina project, compiled during the tenure of her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela, to protect Free State politicians from the African National Congress (ANC).

Mkhwebane found that the Free State department of agriculture was guilty of maladministration for its handling of the project. She found that proper processes were not followed and that the tender agreement between Estina and the department was illegal.

She ordered that then premier, Ace Magashule now secretary general of the ANC, institute disciplinary action against officials who were involved in the project.

African News Agency (ANA) / The Citizen