Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, says she is considering her legal options – including a possible approach to the ConCourt – following the Pretoria High Court’s decision to set aside her report into the Estina Vrede Dairy Farm Project at Vrede in the Free State.

The Court found that Mkhwebane’s report was unconstitutional and invalid.

The DA and others had approached the Public Protector to investigate claims that then Premier Ace Magashule and others had a hand in the dodgy Estina project.

The High Court judgement says Mkhwebane failed to properly investigate those implicated in the R200 million Vrede dairy farm scandal.

Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe says, “The Public Protector fundamentally disagrees with today’s ruling. Among other things, she is concerned that in setting aside the entire report, the ruling might be interpreted as though the court condones the maladministration attributed to parties against whom adverse findings were made, in terms of that particular report. Right now she is weighing her options on the one hand, she wants to apply for leave to appeal to the SCA. But on the other hand she’s toying around with the idea of applying for direct access to the Constitutional Court.”

Meanwhile the Free State government says it has noted the High Court in Pretoria’s scathing judgement regarding the report on the Estina dairy project.

Provincial DG, Kopung Ralikontsane, says the Free State government was not party to the case and the applicants did not cite them as an interested party. He says they will continue to cooperate with authorities.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has welcomed the High Court ruling. DA had asked the Public Protector to investigate the role of then Free State Premier Ace Magashule in the matter – among other things.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane says, “It is an important decision as we continue to fight for citizens, particularly beneficiaries of Vrede who were promised work opportunity and to be able to be shareholders which all turned to be a scheme set out by ANC corrupt officials to benefit the Gupta family. We will continue to investigate. We will be writing to public prosecutions authority to do further investigation to this matter so that those who were corrupt are brought to book. Our destination is to make sure that Vrede community and farmers will the correct beneficiaries.”

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