Agriculture MEC ‘pockets’ emerging farmer’s cattle
North West agriculture MEC Manketsi Tlhape is alleged to have taken 44 cattle, worth more than R500 000, meant for an emerging farmer in her hometown of Delareyville.
Tlhape, an ally of former premier Supra Mahumapelo, is alleged to have instructed officials at AgriDelight to deliver a herd of Simbra to her R3-million farm in the Magaliesberg area on June 23 last year.
Mahumapelo was a key member of the “premier league” who supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s failed bid to be president at last year’s ANC elective conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg.
He was forced to step down as premier after the province was rocked earlier this year by protests and allegations of corruption. The ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) that supported him was subsequently disbanded.
Tlhape, who served on the PEC and its working committee, said she did not issue an instruction for cattle to be delivered to her farm and did not recall any being delivered there. “No, I have to check. I don’t remember any Simbra cattle at my farm that were delivered by AgriDelight.”
The AgriDelight company was appointed by Tlhape’s department in 2014 as an implementing agent for rural, environmental and agricultural development programmes.
Documents seen by the Mail & Guardian show the cattle were delivered to Tlhape’s farm on June 23 last year and her half-brother, Thabo Raphoto, signed the delivery notes.
The documents also detail how there were three deliveries; the first of 15, followed by another of 16 and finally 11 with two calves.
“Thabo is my half-brother; that is why I am saying I will have to check because he is been staying there,” said Tlhape.
“So I don’t remember me receiving that [the cattle]. I will have to check with him. I have never made any arrangement to receive any Simbra cattle with AgriDelight.”
She said her cattle were mixed breeds, “so I would not know which are Simbras and which are not.
“I don’t have cattle that I received from AgriDelight. If Thabo says he received cattle, I would not know what cattle, because the only cattle that I have — I do not know their names per se — it’s the cattle that I have been buying myself. I have never given instructions to AgriDelight. It works for the department not with me,” she said.
When questioned, Raphoto said: “I have never signed for any cattle and I have never received any cattle when I was at the farm. Manketsi [Tlhape] never told me anything.
I don’t know her.”
A source with intimate knowledge of the dealings at AgriDelight and the North West agriculture department said the instruction came directly from Tlhape.“Those cattle were supposed to have been delivered to an emerging farmer. But there was an instruction that they must be kept safe at AgriDelight and then the MEC gave an instruction that they must be delivered at her farm.”
Earlier this year, the Hawks raided the offices of the North West’s agriculture department in Mahikeng as part of their investigation into allegations of corruption at the department and AgriDelight.
Tlhape said her office was not searched, only those of her administrators — those of the head of department, the chief director for farmer’s support and the chief director for rural development.
The Hawks had not commented by the time of publication.
The cattle were part of a R1.1-million package, for 96 cattle and a feedlot, that was to have been delivered to Sebowana Agricultural Services in Delareyville, which is run by Daniel Madoda and his son, George Madoda.
George Madoda was unemployed in 2013 when the company applied for grant assistance to venture into commercial farming.
In 2015, 50 cattle were delivered to Sebowana, but the delivery of the rest was delayed because Madoda had resigned from the company in 2014 and moved to the North West’s department of public works.
The agriculture department had a problem with this change and said he had to declare that he was now an employee of the provincial government.
While George Madoda and the agriculture department were wrangling over the issue, the remaining cattle allegedly found their way to Tlhape’s farm.
George Madoda said the revelation was the tip of the iceberg. “I’m told that Sebowana are considering their options and that they will approach the courts very soon. The Hawks have been too long on this matter. They have more than enough evidence. They should act.”
The Hawks are also investigating the delivery of a herd of cattle worth R1.5-million to former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead in October 2016.
The Sunday Times reported earlier in the year that Mahumapelo had instructed AgriDelight to make the delivery.