Review on PP’s Vrede Dairy report scheduled for next week

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The Vrede Dairy farm that was run by Gupta company Estina. Photo: Neil McCartney

The review of the Public Protector’s report on the Vrede Dairy Project is set to take place next week in the North Gauteng High Court.

The two day sitting – due to take place over October 23 and 24 – comes nearly eight months after the Democratic Alliance (DA) announced in a press briefing in February, that it would take Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report on Judicial Review.

The long-waited Vrede Dairy report, was released on the morning of February 9 to much criticism from the party – the complainant in the investigation. The DA accused Mkhwebane of letting the politicians who were at the helm in the province off the hook by not probing their involvement further.

These high ranking officials are, former Free State Premier, Ace Magashule and MP Mosebenzi Zwane, who was MEC of Agriculture in the province when the project was initiated. The party described the report, “as nothing more than a white wash of a grand project of corruption and looting” in which “Mkhwebane chose to ignore their submission that the project originated in the office of Magashule”.

The proposed remedial action was also heavily criticised by the party, stating “the remedial action recommended in the report proposes to discipline the implicated officials, but she makes no recommendation whatsoever on the action taken against the political principles who orchestrated the project”, speaking specifically of Magashule and Zwane.

Meanwhile some of the implicated officials in the criminal case, namely, Free State Agriculture head Peter Thabethe, general manager for District Services at the Free State Agriculture Department, Takisi Masiteng, former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Free State Agriculture Department Sylvia Dlamini are due to return to the Bloemfontein Regional Court on December 4 for their alleged involvement.

During their last court appearance on August 17, the accused said their lives had been negatively impacted by the case, with Peter Thabethe’s legal representative saying in court that his contract with the Free State Department of Agriculture expired this year and was not renewed as a result of the case. He added Thabethe has been unemployed since his contract ended and has been unable to find employment since.

Olebogeng Motse / OFM News