Cattle diverted from the poor to Jacob Zuma for years
R100m scandal points to former president stocking his kraals with cattle bought for poor farmers
Prized cows worth millions of rands - bought with public money and meant to benefit emerging Eastern Cape farmers - were instead dished out to former president Jacob Zuma, ANC politicians and Eastern Cape royalty.
In an astonishing admission this week, former OR Tambo district municipality mayor Zoleka Capa - who is now chair of parliament's portfolio committee on social development and a close ally of Zuma - admitted she had given cows to the former president. She even confessed to taking cows for herself, but claimed this was so she could give them to community members.
The latest revelation follows a report in the Sunday Times in April about Zuma being given cattle worth R1.5m in 2016 from his political ally, former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo. Zuma personally signed for the 25 Bonsmara cattle, which were also paid for with public money meant to be spent on emerging farmers.
In the latest scandal, the cattle were purchased in 2008 as part of an upliftment plan by the OR Tambo municipality, which splashed out R62m on a cluster of seven farms near Kokstad in KwaZulu-Natal and a further R30m buying 1,800 cows and farming equipment.
The district municipality covers small councils including King Sabata Dalindyebo, Ngquza Hill, Nyandeni, Port St Johns and Mhlontlo. The district's towns include Mthatha, the seat of the council.
It was estimated that the herd would increase to 10,000 within 10 years. Instead, the cattle were distributed to councillors and politicians. There are only about 800 left, some of which are calves.
Sources working closely with the project alleged that about 50 head of cattle - including Brahman and Sussex cows - were taken to Nkandla. Others, according to Capa, were transported to Willowvale for Zuma to "hand out to kings".
A farmworker who is employed as a herdsman said some of the cattle had been transported to Zuma's Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.
"We prepared the cattle and after that we got an order to deliver them. We took them to Greytown and Nkandla," he said.He was aware of two trips to Nkandla between 2009 and 2014 - one was to deliver cattle to Zuma and the other was to exchange some cows for Nguni cattle from the Nkandla homestead.
But the Nguni did not make it back to the Kokstad farms, with staff claiming they had been taken to Capa's farm in Mkhambati.
A truck driver recalled: "We travelled as far as Nkandla and Mooi River to deliver cattle. We didn't ask questions but we were told to deliver the cattle. We would be received by people that side. I remember in 2011 … there was a ceremony. Not sure if it was a wedding or not."
Cows were also "donated" in and around the former Transkei area for ceremonies, including a church event attended by Zuma in 2014 in Mthatha. Others were slaughtered in ANC election victory celebrations in 2009.
The Sunday Times spoke to numerous employees involved with the cattle, who claimed the farms had only been purchased to "enrich politically connected individuals".
Zuma's spokesperson, Vukile Mathabela, did not respond to questions sent on Friday.
Others alleged to have scored big are Capa's husband, Ndumiso Capa; traditional leader and former King Sabata Dalindyebo; municipality councillor Solly Nduku; KwaCele councillor Fikile Magaya; former Ntinga OR Tambo Development Agency CEO Mncedisi Zungula; and rural development and agrarian reform director Muji Mngadi.
But Capa, who was mayor of OR Tambo district municipality between 2000 and 2010, said this week that everything she and her husband had done had been approved by the council."I never authorised for cattle to go to Nkandla, but I can confirm that I did give him [Zuma] cattle for him to give to people, including King Zwelonke Sigcawu in Willowvale. This was also done to other kingdoms; a number of cattle were given to people."
Capa - who campaigned for Zuma ahead the ANC's elective conference in Polokwane in 2007 - claimed she was not known by Zuma at the time she was mayor, but because of her work ethic Zuma recognised her.
"We started working closer when I was MEC." She was Eastern Cape MEC for rural development and agrarian reform from 2010 to 2013.
But she denied benefiting personally from the cattle, saying the cows that had been sent to her farms were for "community benefit".
"Yes, cattle were delivered to my place and to Mkhambati. This happened a number of times. During my time, I gave out cattle, goats and sheep to the community and they appreciated that," she said.
"I left prized cattle and goats at the farms, the fields were ploughed, but today there's just nothing," she said. "I am still bitter, people accused my husband of lots of things. Whatever we did was approved by the council. There's nothing wrong with what I was doing. I was helping people to benefit from government projects and having cattle there, we were doing it to help."
Ndumiso Capa declined to comment.
King Sigcawu's uncle, Xhanti Sigcawu, said he did not recall any cattle ever being donated by the OR Tambo municipality or the Ntinga development agency and delivered by Zuma to the king.
"When we have functions, we ask government for assistance. Also, when drivers come with cattle they identify themselves and we took note of that. I honestly don't recall them making such a delivery."
According to a driver who worked on the farms, truckloads of cattle were taken to farms linked to the Capas.
Sources said these deliveries were authorised by Ndumiso, head of the Ntinga OR Tambo Development Agency at the time.
In 2014, Zungula, who took over from Ndumiso and is a leader of the Twelve Apostolic Church in Christ, is alleged to have organised for more than 10 cows from the Kokstad farms to be slaughtered at a church ceremony held at Ngangelizwe stadium in Mthatha. The allegations were corroborated by a police officer of the local stock theft unit, a former truck driver, a former farm manager and two staff members. They said that more than 500 cattle had been removed from the farm since 2009 "and that still happens today".
This was confirmed by a former driver, Mangutyana Madikizela, who worked for the municipality until 2011. He told the Sunday Times he had delivered cattle to Capa's farms in Mkhambati and Flagstaff, as well as to Emfundisweni.BT STORY ON MILK WARS"I would get an order from the office and I would deliver the cattle to Mkhambati, Capa's farm. At times I would meet a person at Emfundisweni and I would drive with that person to Flagstaff to deliver cattle," said Madikizela.
Asked who had authorised the deliveries, he said: "You don't ask your employer, you just do as you are told. I visited Flagstaff and Mkhambati many times delivering cattle, truckloads of them. That is the place where the Nguni cattle are."
OR Tambo municipal spokesman Ayongezwa Lungisa said they would not know what had happened in the previous administration of the farms, but if complaints were laid, they would investigate.
"We exchange cattle, we do stock exchange and cattle are sent anywhere, but honestly I am not sure of cattle that were sent to Nkandla. But if we get information, we will look at that," said Lungisa.
A person close to Capa blamed Ndumiso for the missing cattle.
"You can't blame her, the husband should answer, he was hands-on when a number of cattle went missing," said the source.
Nduku this week denied he had scored cattle. He was the former chair of a committee overseeingthe Kokstad farms, among other projects. "I honestly never took any cattle, this is just pure politicking."
Neither Mngadi nor Magaya responded to calls or text messages.
Zungula denied he had sent cattle to his church. "We can't steal these cattle, there is an asset register for them. These could be created stories and it must be noted that Zuma regularly visits our church."
UDM councillor Bandile Gqwetha, who sits on the rural development and planning committee in the municipality, said the issue of the missing cows needed urgent investigation.
"This is looting of state property. We hear that the cattle ended up in Nkandla but that will need to be answered by the municipality. How can the cattle end up at politicians' kraals while the poor, who were intended to benefit, suffer. We were told last year there were 800 cattle on the farm but when we did a head count, there were [800 including] calves. What happened to the rest?"
An officer at the stock theft unit in Kokstad said he had gone to Capa's home, Ndukudeni, in Flagstaff in 2011 following a lead after a prized bull went missing from the Kokstad farms.
"I can confirm that I saw the bull at Capa's place but could not remove it as it was not marked [branded]," he said...