The long-awaited Vrede Dairy Project probe has been completed. Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says the investigation has identified all implicated parties and they have been served with notices.
This was revealed during a media briefing today in Pretoria, where Mkhwebane released numerous reports.
The Vrede Dairy Project was established in 2012 on the Krynaauwslust farm near Vrede in the Free State.
The R250 million project was supposed to uplift emerging Black farmers, but much of the cash allegedly ended up in the pockets of the politically connected Gupta brothers.
Mkhwebane says, “The investigation proved to be more complex than we’ve thought, thus various institutions had to be approached to assist the organisation and this took longer than expected. Only earlier this month we managed to serve implicated parties with papers, Section 79 notices in terms of the Public Protector’s Act. We had hoped that once we’ve got their responses we will then be ready to issue this report today. So some of the parties, unfortunately, requested an extension.”
Media briefing held today:
The latest investigation comes after the High Court in Pretoria ruled last year that Mkhwebane failed in her duties to properly investigate and report on the Vrede Dairy farm project.
The court ruled at the time that the report was unconstitutional, invalid and set it aside.
An earlier investigation by then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela revealed that bank statements showed that no payments were made to Black beneficiaries. She further discovered that the dairy farm was just a shell company and cash was siphoned off to the Guptas.