It has taken years for law enforcement agencies to act on allegations of corruption linked to the Gupta family and the Free State government, says investigative journalist at amaBhungane, Sam Sole. This is a testimony to a breakdown in the system, he concludes.
The Sunday Times reported a preservation order obtained by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has revealed that Atul Gupta was reportedly paid taxpayers’ money to benefit from a Free State government dairy farm.
It has also reported that the Guptas benefited from R220 million paid by the Free State Agriculture Department to Estina in a project meant to benefit poor farmers.
In 2013, amaBhungane revealed how the provincial government had gifted Estina a free 99-year lease to the 4,400-hectare farm outside Vrede. Its sole director was an IT salesman with no farming experience.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, then Free State MEC of agriculture, has been linked to the project, as well as Free State Premier Ace Magashule.
The fact that it has taken this long, is a testimony just to the complete capture and break down of the state accountability systems. If you think that we ran our first story in May 2013 which set out the failure to follow supply chain procedures.— Sam Sole, amaBhungane investigative journalist and managing partner
Back in 2014 a lot of this was known, I think the Treasury was obliged to refer it to law enforcement authorities in the Free State and clearly nothing happened.— Sam Sole, amaBhungane investigative journalist and managing partner
What we need to see is that every single official responsible for not doing anything about this is traced and charged.— Sam Sole, amaBhungane investigative journalist and managing partner
One of the things that we didn't know, after we reported in 2014, the Free State government announced officially that they had cancelled the contract with Estina. Now we see from the bank data that the AFU have got hold of, that in 2015 and 2016 hundreds of millions more were paid after the fact that this was a scam was exposed.— Sam Sole, amaBhungane investigative journalist and managing partner
Click on the link below to listen to the full conversation....