“Beneficiaries” of Vrede dairy project make demands

Cows at the Vrede dairy farm
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Beneficiaries from the controversial Estina dairy farm project are demanding a portion of the farm for grazing. They say they have not benefited since the inception of the project.

The more than R220 million farm project, linked to the Gupta family, has been at the centre stage of a corruption and money laundering scandal.

The farm is alleged to be a front for money laundering.

The Vrede Dairy project aimed at empowering local black farmers, has been plagued with corruption allegations since its inception.

Newspaper reports alleged that R30 million in government funds intended for the project were instead laundered through Dubai and used to pay for the 2013 wedding ceremony of Vegay Gupta at Sun City and was then accounted for as a business expense.

The farm has been under a curator since the Hawks investigated it earlier in the year. The Free State Development Corporation (FDC) has been managing the project since November 2014.

“The FDC is not the funder of this project we are only the managers of this project. So we are limited as to what exactly we could do. And everything that we do we have to do with the permission and the agreement of the department of agriculture,” said: FDC CEO, Ikhraam Osman.

The diary was established as a public-private partnership with Estina, a BEE company,  as part of the Free State Provincial government’s agricultural project, Mohoma-Mobung.

Parliament agriculture portfolio committee visited the project as part of its oversight work.

The NPA maintains it has a strong case against the eight accused in the Estina dairy farm project.

The accused face among others, fraud and corruption charges.

The Estina project is expected to be raised at  the State Capture inquiry starting on Monday.