State to add ‘two potential accused’ to Vrede dairy corruption case

06 September 2021 - 12:17
By Iavan Pijoos
The state plans to add two accused to the Vrede dairy case. File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy The state plans to add two accused to the Vrede dairy case. File photo.

The state on Monday said it planned to add “two potential accused” to the failed Estina dairy feasibility study case in Vrede in the Free State.

Advocate Nazeer Cassim said during a virtual hearing that the two accused would be brought before court at the next hearing. They have not been arrested yet.

Cassim asked the court to postpone the matter for them to formally join proceedings.

“There are also other proceedings in which we have invoked international mutual legal assistance to procure the presence of other people, but that is not in our hands and that will have to be a separate trial,” he said.

Former Transnet board member Iqbal Sharma, Nulane Investments employee Dinesh Patel, former Free State head of department for rural development Peter Thabethe, former Free State agriculture head of department Limakatso Moorosi and former department CFO Seipati Dhlamini all appeared alongside their lawyers during the virtual hearing on Monday.

They face charges of fraud and money laundering. The former government officials are also charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

The case relates to procurement fraud involving R24.9m paid by the Free State department of agriculture to Nulane Investments 204.

A feasibility study was contracted to Nulane Investments by the Free State government to check the likelihood of success of the Mohoma Mobung agriculture project.

Nulane Investments, however, had no employees on its books and subcontracted Deloitte to produce the report.

Deloitte was paid R1.5m for the work. The only change made to the Deloitte report was to identify Paras dairy as a suitable implementing partner for the development of a milk processing plant in Vrede.

In July, the Investigating Directorate (ID) said efforts to bring the Gupta brothers and their wives back to SA to face charges had intensified, with Interpol issuing red notices for their arrest.

Atul Gupta and his wife Chetali, Rajesh Gupta and his wife Arti, and three others are wanted to join the other accused.

The matter was postponed to September 28.