News24.com | Vrede Dairy Farm report not yet ready, says Mkhwebane

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

  • Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says her report on the Vrede Dairy Farm project is still not ready, and does not want to commit to a date.  
  • Mkhwebane adds her office has been struggling to track down two beneficiaries. 
  • She says her office also needs assistance from law enforcement agencies, especially the National Prosecuting Authority.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says her report on the Vrede Dairy Farm project is still not ready.

This despite announcing earlier this year her investigation was at an advanced stage, saying she anticipated it would be completed by 31 March, News24 previously reported. 

Mkhwebane delivered her findings into 35 investigations during a briefing in Pretoria on Monday. 

“That report is still not yet ready and we are on the final stages but unfortunately, I am not in a position to also commit to any particular date because the investigators have several investigations which they are currently busy with,” she said.

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“All the beneficiaries were interviewed but there were two beneficiaries which we couldn’t track, especially the ones who signed the service level agreement with the then-Free State provincial government. We struggled to trace them and finally we managed to get hold of them.” 

Struggle

Mkhwebane added another struggle her office had was they needed assistance from law enforcement agencies, especially the National Prosecuting Authority.

“We were only focusing on maladministration or any benefit which the politicians might have had and we are focusing on the prejudice to the beneficiaries.”

Last year, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled Mkhwebane had failed in her duties to investigate and report on the Vrede Dairy Farm project in the Free State.

Judge Ronel Tolmay ruled the initial report, which Mkhwebane quietly released in 2018, was unconstitutional and invalid, and set it aside.

The court subsequently found Mkhwebane responsible for some of the legal costs in her personal capacity.

News24 previously reported the farm, gifted to Estina in 2013 under a free 99-year lease by the Free State agriculture department, was one of the most scandal-plagued transactions between the controversial Gupta family and a government entity.

The #GuptaLeaks further revealed last year how at least R30 million paid to the Guptas via the farm ended up funding the family’s lavish Sun City wedding in 2013.

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