Zondo slams lax Free State premier over info no-show

Free State premier Sisi Ntombela. Picture: Gallo Images / The citizen

Commission of Inquiry into State Capture chief Raymond Zondo expressed frustration at the Free State government’s failure to provide crucial information to former MEC Mxolisi Dukwana, whose testimony has been rescheduled to April 5.

In his evidence, Dukwana is expected to lay bare some dealings ANC secretary-general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule had with the Gupta family, that saw state coffers being plundered.

These could include:

  • The controversial Gupta-owned Estina dairy farm, said to have been funded to the tune of R334,203,652 over two years – from 2014 to 2016 – by the Free State department of agriculture under Mosebenzi Zwane as MEC.
  • Regular adverts placed by the Free State government in the Gupta-owned The New Age newspaper and on ANN7 television channel, to support the now-defunct family media empire.

The commission yesterday heard that despite an undertaking given to Zondo by premier Sisi Ntombela six months ago to release the information, the provincial government did not.

“She assured me that they would cooperate fully and would facilitate access to such information. I am surprised there is still information Dukwana has not obtained from the Free State government,” Zondo said.

In a bid to ensure that the information required is obtained, Zondo has instructed members of his legal team, investigators, Dukwana’s lawyers and the Free State director-general “to converge on a date that would be agreed between the commission and the provincial government”.

The spotlight will this week, once again, fall on the embattled facilities management company Bosasa, with its former chief of operations Angelo Agrizzi and former auditor Peet Venter expected to testify.

Agrizzi, who was the first to lift the lid on the extent of corruption which involved Bosasa executives, senior government officials and leading ANC politicians, is expected to drop more bombshells when he takes the stand to complete his earlier testimony.

Venter, whose company was contracted by Bosasa last year, is expected to shed light on the R500,000 the company is said to have paid to Andile Ramaphosa, son of President Cyril Ramaphosa, on instructions of Bosasa chief executive officer Gavin Watson.

Brian Sokutu / The Citizen