The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says it was not furnished with the list of beneficiaries of the Vrede dairy project in Free State.

The department’s Programme Manager, Elder Mtshiza has been testifying about its role in the failed project at the State Capture Commission in Parktown, Johannesburg.

Over R200 million in public funds was allocated to the project, led by a Gupta linked company Estina and promoted as a tool by the provincial government to benefit black emerging farmers. However a lot of the cash allegedly ended up in the pockets of the Guptas.

Mtshiza says they were told that the list exists. “When we left the meeting we had agreed with the HOD that, because he did indicate that there is a list of beneficiaries but he did not talk to contract maybe they did enter into them later, to conclude our visit we made a list of the things that needed to come to us because we could not make any engagement technically and that was supposed to be a technical visit on site. We then requested that a feasibility report be submitted to us, the beneficiary list be sent to us, the business plan be sent to us, the EIA be sent to us.”

“At the time for the funding of the Vrede dairy project it was a schedule 4 conditional grant which means it was meant to supplement equitable share in supporting farmers both small holder and subsistence in particular and it’s mainly for supporting black producers just to enable them to increase their production to allow them with acquisition of infrastructure; to support them with training capacity building and support them with market access and well as business development.”