JOHANNESBURG – The Free State Agriculture Department did not improperly enter into a public/private partnership with the Estina dairy farm, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane revealed on Friday.
The revelations were made in her report on the controversial farm.
While the department may have not benefitted from the deal, it was found that officials flouted procedural rules.
Head of the Free State Agriculture Peter Thabethe flouted procurement processes as prescribed by the Public Finance Management Act and payments were not in line with Treasury prescripts.
PP finds serious lack of any document keeping by the FS Agri Dept & that the lack of internal controls amount to "gross negligence & maladministration" regarding the #Estina project. @eNCA pic.twitter.com/wlJTOwjNvR— Michael (@TheMikeAppel) February 9, 2018
Mkhwebane further found the department’s accounting officer made a R143.9 million payment to the Vrede farm, despite the Auditor General flagging the project for possible legal breaches.
It is claimed, in the so-called Gupta leaks, the farm meant to benefit black farmers was instead used to syphon funds from the state.
Furthermore, it is alleged the operation was used to fund the controversial Gupta wedding, which took place at Sun City back in 2013.
- Editor’s Note: This is a developing story, more to follow.