One of the beneficiaries of the controversial Vrede Dairy Project has died under seemingly suspicious circumstances after he was discovered to be severely beaten in a shack on Knelvlei Farm, outside the small town of Vrede. Philemon Ngwenya’s body was found by family members after his bakkie was noticed in a veld by a passer-by on Friday.
According to a statement by the Democratic Alliance’s Patricia Kopane, the 53-year-old Ngwenya was very vocal about the Estina Dairy farm project that was alleged to have cost more than R200 million. About R30 million of this money was allegedly used to fund the infamous Gupta Sun City wedding while beneficiaries are yet to receive benefits from the community upliftment project.
Kopane urged police to urgently investigate the death. “Should the motive be linked to the project it will not be the first time a person loses his life while trying to expose the rot in this project. Moses Tshake an Auditor in the Free State Department of Agriculture was kidnapped, tortured and killed after allegedly questioning payments linked to the controversial Vrede Dairy Farm Project in 2013,” stated Kopane.
Police spokesperson, Sergeant Mmako Mophiring, said that a case of murder is being investigated although no suspects have been found yet. Mophiring disputed speculations that Ngwenya was shot. “The deceased Mr Ngwenya was found with wounds on his head and body that show that an object was used but we do not know what kind of object it was. We hope that certainly the post-mortem (examination) will be able to indicate thereafter,” explained Mophiring.
He also disputed the existence of a recording that threatens the lives of the dairy farm beneficiaries. “We do not know anything about the recording that has been speculated. We do not know of it at this stage,” he said.
Ngwenya as well as other livestock owners from Thembalihle, Vrede, kept their stock at Knelvlei Farm. He had apparently put up a shack at the farm so as to look after his stock. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele