The intended beneficiaries of the corruption-tainted Estina dairy farm project in the Free State want to be compensated. The more than R250 million project is fully operational, but the would-be beneficiaries have been sidelined.

Phindile Ngwenya, one of the two daughters of Philemon Ngwenya, is still in pain exactly two years after the death of her father. The 53-year-old Ngwenya was severely beaten and stabbed with a sharp object. He was one of the first people to expose alleged corruption in the Estina dairy farm project.

Ngwenya was one of the 82 intended beneficiaries of the controversial project.

“We don’t know what is happening. We just saw on the TV the Estina dairy thing is still continuing, but we know nothing. We just hear our father’s name but we are not informed.”

The dairy project came with high hopes in 2012. Small-scale farmers were promised all-paid training to overseas countries and that they would eventually become shareholders in the project.

Intended beneficiaries of Estina dairy farm project want to be compensated: 

Mpaleni Hlongwane, another intended beneficiary of the says, “We want them to give us what rightfully belongs to us. Alternatively, they must give us contracts to enable us to be full members with benefits.”

Two other intended beneficiaries say they are hopeless.

“What hurts me the most is that they took our IDs to set up a dairy project, but we have been excluded. As we speak, the dairy is fully operational. I wish that we get compensated. We have families to look after. I am not happy at all with what they did.”

In February 2018, members of the Gupta family, their business associates and senior government officials were arrested. They were, among others, charged with fraud, theft and contravening the Public Finance Management Act.

The charges were later provisionally withdrawn.

The Free State Legislature has established two committees to investigate the matter.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will soon release the report on the Estina project. Her initial report was set aside by a court after it was declared unconstitutional and invalid.

Eight in court for Estina dairy farm fraud and corruption: