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Agency and M&G Reporter
15 Feb 2018 07:01
The suspects were arrested in connection with investigations into the Free State Vrede dairy farm project. (Gallo Images)
Five people arrested during raids by the Hawks on various Gupta compounds are to appear in the Bloemfontein Regional Court on Thursday, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed.
The suspects were arrested in connection with investigations into the Free State Vrede dairy farm project, Mulaudzi said.
One Gupta brother and a business associate are among those arrested and more arrests are imminent, News24 understands.
City Press reported that that former Free State agriculture head Peter Thabethe was arrested in connection with his involvement in the failed dairy farm project.
Thabethe was the head of department at the time that Mosebenzi Zwane, who is now Minister of Mineral Resources, was the agriculture MEC.
A senior security cluster official told City Press that Thabethe was arrested on Wednesday morning, after a raid at his home in Bloemfontein earlier in the morning.
The publication said it was told by a senior source within the security cluster that the unnamed Gupta brother would be appearing in court alongside Thabethe.
Reuters also reported that police raided the offices of the Guptas’ Oakbay holding company in Johannesburg on Wednesday, according to a security guard outside the building.
In January, the Hawks also conducted search and seizure operations at Free State Premier Ace Magashule’s offices and the provincial office of the Department of Agriculture, News24 reported.
An affidavit has also revealed that Free State’s agricultural department – then under Zwane – allegedly paid R220-million to the Guptas and some of their associates in what the Asset Forfeiture Unit calls a “scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department”.
One hundred black emerging farmers were promised five cows each as part of the empowerment scheme, but they never received them.
Gifted to the Gupta-linked Estina in 2013, under a free 99-year lease by the provincial agriculture department, the farm has been one of the most scandalous transactions between the Guptas and a government entity.
The Gupta email leaks revealed how at least R30-million paid to the Guptas, via the farm, ended up funding the family’s lavish Sun City wedding in 2013.— News24
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