Promises of a better life were empty, say 'beneficiaries' of Estina farm project
For the intended "beneficiaries" of the controversial Estina dairy farm, the multimillion- rand project was supposed to create jobs and upskill farmers in Vrede to ensure "better lives".
But the farmers were left with their hopes destroyed when more than R200m for the project was siphoned off to the Gupta family by the Free State government.
Some of those intended beneficiaries spoke to public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane during a public hearing hosted by her in Vrede on Thursday.
The hearings form part of an investigation into suspected political interference and prejudice suffered by the "beneficiaries" of the project.
One of them, Jim Twana, said he was told farmers would benefit from receiving cows.
He said at a public meeting, former Free State agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane, who is now implicated in state capture, "told us we will get better lives through this dairy farm".
"They said they will distribute the cows equally among the beneficiaries. I had two cows, one died and I sold the other because I wanted to work at the farm," he said.
Another farmer, David Khumalo, said he was promised training.
"We were told each beneficiary would get four dairy cows. We were told we would hire people to work for us, we would be trained," he said. "Our area is small, there are no jobs and half of our community would be employed in the project. We thought this dairy would help develop our town."