Back-tracking on his earlier evidence, former Free State Agriculture Department Head of Department, Peter Thabethe, has now admitted to have met the Guptas at their residence in Saxonwold.

Thabethe has been facing questions on how public funds amounting to R200 million meant to benefit emerging farmers ended in the pockets of the Gupta-linked company.

Contrary to his earlier testimony, he conceded to the meeting where he says he met with an Indian delegation from Paras to discuss work permits for the company’s technical workers.

Thabethe previously told the Zondo Commission he hadn’t met any members of the family that has come to be associated with state capture. Today he said he had.

Tabethe was the Free State Agriculture head who signed off on the Estina Dairy project. It saw millions of taxpayers money given to a company that had only R16 in its bank account.

Estina Dairy project

Paras contracted Estina to set up the Vrede Dairy Farm Project. However, Thabathe insists that his new testimony does not contradict what he said previously that he had never discussed the Vrede Farm Project with any member of the Gupta family.

“I am admitting meeting them, but I am not admitting discussing aspects of the project but talking about Estina technical issues means that your are talking about the Estina project. Your host is a member of the Gupta family. It means you are discussing the project. I am discussing with the delegation from India; that was the intention; that was my understanding of the meeting. You are you are introduced to these people by your host, your host knows that they are Estina technocrats people who have technical skills who are coming to Estina and to Vrede to work on the project.”

But Thabethe insists the Guptas were not involved in the project. This despite earlier evidence by former Free State MEC finance Elzabe Rockman linking the Guptas to the project.

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