/ 27 September 2022

Former minister Zwane confirms he will report to police over Estina scandal

New Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
Mosebenzi Zwane, The chairperson of parliament's portfolio committee for transport, will be indicted for the dairy farm scandal this week

Member of parliament and former minister of mineral resources Mosebenzi Zwane will be arrested and charged on Wednesday in relation to the Vrede dairy farm scandal.

A source close to the case told the Mail & Guardian the state would not oppose bail for the chairperson of parliament’s portfolio committee on transport, who the Zondo inquiry into state capture fingered in the dairy farm scandal, a supposed Free State empowerment scheme for emerging farmers.

The commission, in its final report on grand corruption in the Zuma era, also found that Zwane and suspended ANC secretary general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule were “pursuing the agenda of the Guptas” by failing to do their jobs with respect to the Free State government’s R280-million Vrede dairy project.

Word of Zwane’s impending arrest and indictment comes as the National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate said on Tuesday that the Pretoria regional court has postponed the fraud case against two associates of the Gupta family arising from the dairy farm scandal to November 30 for a pre-trial hearing.

Zwane confirmed to Mail & Guardian that he was asked to report to the police and said he would do so.

“I’m a law-abiding citizen, what can I do,” he said.

The Estina case is inextricably linked to the Nulane Investments case, and Atul and Rajesh Gupta are facing charges in both instances.

On Tuesday, the Free State high court reserved judgment on an application by Dinesh Patel and Ronica Ragavan, both associates of the Gupta family, in the Nulane Investments fraud and money-laundering case where the extradition of Atul and Rajesh Gupta from the United Arab Emirates is sought.

In that matter,  the Free State was criminally overcharged for a feasibility study designed to ensure that the tender for the dairy farm development project in Vrede went to Estina, from where the state alleges another R280-million flowed to what it terms, in court papers, “the Gupta enterprise.

The Estina case was previously enrolled but provisionally withdrawn in 2018 after the state encountered several obstacles, among them a lack of cooperation from Emirati authorities on bank transactions reflecting allegedly illicit money flow.

On Tuesday, the Investigating Directorate said the Pretoria high court had postponed until the end of November a R37 million fraud charge in relation to the dairy farm project against two associates of the Gupta brothers. 

It is alleged that a fraudulent feasibility study, signed off by Nulane Investments, paved the way for the dairy farm development project to be awarded to Estina.

From there, the money allegedly flowed to the Guptas, funding the family’s now infamous Sun City wedding.

Zwane was the Free State’s MEC for agriculture at the time the tender was awarded.