Justice must prevail for Estina Dairy Farm beneficiaries: Free State DA

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State says it is optimistic that the Bloemfontein High Court will give the beneficiaries of the Estina Vrede Dairy Project the justice that they deserve.

The statement comes ahead of the party’s court bid on the matter on Thursday.

More than R280-million was spent by the department on the farm with promises to the community that they would be beneficiaries.

The money was allegedly diverted to the coffers of Gupta family members and associates.

DA Free State provincial leader Roy Jankielson says in their heads of arguments, they contend that no project of this nature has a right to exist without beneficiaries or other benefits for the local community and province.

“There is no greater injustice that politicians can commit than to give people hope and steal that hope from them. For eight years, the beneficiaries of the Vrede Dairy Farm have been side-lined and excluded from the project denying them justice. That is why the Democratic Alliance has taken the issue to court.”

The project was badly handled 

During his testimony at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in May this year, former Free State Human Settlement MEC Mosebenzi Zwane conceded that the Estina Dairy Farm project was badly handled. However, he believes it was the best initiative for agriculture.

Earlier, Zwane disputed that claims that beneficiaries of the Vrede Dairy Farm Project were sidelined.

The former minister told the Commission that the project would have been one of the best initiatives by the provincial government if it was well executed.

Zwane also rebutted allegations that he promised some of the Estina Beneficiaries a trip to India.

Public Protector findings 

In a report released in December last year, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that there was political meddling in the Vrede project.

Mkhwebane found that Vrede project beneficiaries have been prejudiced. Her report has also revealed that the Free State government failed to execute its oversight responsibilities.

In this regard, Mkhwebane has blamed former Premier Ace Magashule, MEC Mamiki Qabathe, former MECs Mosebenzi Zwane and Elsabe Rockman.

In her report, Mkhwebane found that their conduct amounted to maladministration. She also found that the provincial executive council had improperly appropriated funds for the project.

In the related video below, opposition parties demand the arrest of politicians involved in the project: 

-Additional reporting by Ntlantla Kgatlane and Ismael Modiba