Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

State granted lengthy postponement in Estina dairy farm case

The Bloemfontein magistrate’s court on Tuesday granted the State’s request for a lengthy postponement in the Estina dairy farm case.

Free State National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said the case had been postponed to December 4.

Varun Gupta, the nephew of the controversial Gupta brothers, Oakbay CEO Ronica Ragavan, former Sahara executive Ashu Chawla, former TNA media executive Nazeem Howa, Estina director Kamal Vasram and three Free State provincial government officials – Peter Thabethe, Sylvia Dlamini and Takisi Masiteng – appeared in court on Tuesday.

The eight were granted bail in February this year.

READ MORE: The state’s case against the Guptas and co.

They were arrested on charges of fraud, theft, conspiracy to commit fraud and theft, contravening the Public Finance Management Act, contravening the Companies Act, and contravening sections of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act in connection with the alleged theft of R250-million linked to the Estina dairy farm project in Vrede.

Advanced investigation

On Friday, prosecutor Justice Bakamela asked the court to grant a three- to six-month postponement for further investigation, to allow for the finalisation of financial reports.

Bakamela told the court that more than 300 bank statements had been obtained and that he was awaiting information from authorities in Dubai and India, pending the finalisation of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) agreements.

In support of this, he presented an affidavit by the Hawks investigating officer, who sought to outline the processes followed since the previous appearance in February, and a letter from the Department of Justice confirming that it was in the process of finalising MLA agreements with authorities in Dubai and India.

Under questioning from Magistrate Collin Nekosi, Bakamela was at pains to commit to a timeline for this process to be finalised.

He said the investigation was at an advanced stage.

Two defence counsel brought motions to oppose the application for postponement, led by advocate Mike Hellens SC who is representing Chawla, Ragavan and Gupta.

Hellens cast serious doubt on the integrity of the NPA’s case in his lengthy argument against the postponement.

Hellens asked the court to strike the matter from the roll and scrap bail conditions while the NPA and Hawks finalised their investigation.

Bakamela said he required the comfort of three or five months more – but if the information from international authorities was forthcoming before this date, he would approach the accused and the court to set a trial date. — News24

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Kyle Cowan
Kyle Cowan

Kyle Cowan is an investigative journalist at News 24.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Zondo commission: 10 unanswered questions

Zuma went to jail rather than testify. Some who did told blatant lies. Who decided Cabinet appointments and how much money was carried out of Saxonwold?

Local elections: Water tops the agenda in Limpopo’s dry villages

People in the Fetakgomo Tubatse local municipality, who have to collect water from Motse River, are backing independent candidates because they’re tired of parties’ election promises

More top stories

Zondo commission: 10 unanswered questions

Zuma went to jail rather than testify. Some who did told blatant lies. Who decided Cabinet appointments and how much money was carried out of Saxonwold?

Nigeria’s palm wine tappers face stiff competition

Large companies such as International Breweries and Nigerian Breweries are vying for the population’s drinking money

Covid-19 border closures hit Zimbabwe’s women traders hard

The past 18 months have been tough for women cross-border traders, who saw their income vanish when borders closed

Local elections: Water tops the agenda in Limpopo’s dry villages

People in the Fetakgomo Tubatse local municipality, who have to collect water from Motse River, are backing independent candidates because they’re tired of parties’ election promises
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×