The Democratic Alliance (DA) takes note of the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to provisionally withdraw the case against the accused in the Estina matter. The reasons provided on the decision to withdraw the matter are flimsy at best, and wholly unconvincing.
The DA will take it up with the current acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Dr. Silas Ramaite. The NPA has no forensic accounting capacity, and never has had. This function has always been outsourced to private companies, by the SAPS. This is a function of SAPS.
~ Glynnis Breytenbach MP – DA Shadow Minister of Justice
Pelane Phakgadi, News24 – 28 November 2018
The NPA is provisionally withdrawing its case against several Gupta family members and its business associates accused of involvement in the Estina dairy farm project in the Free State.
The prosecuting authority’s Luvuyo Mfaku confirmed to News24 on Wednesday afternoon that a letter had been sent to the legal representatives of the Guptas informing them of the latest developments.
The case was meant to return to the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on 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 were charged in connection with the case.
They face 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 R250m linked to the Estina dairy farm project in Vrede.
The eight were granted bail in February this year.
According to a report by Business Day, they wrote a letter to the Gupta family’s legal representatives stating that it had not received any information regarding the mutual legal assistance requests it had made to India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and as a result, the investigations were not finalized.
The NPA’s national spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku confirmed to News24 that the letter obtained by Business Day was authentic, and referred queries to the prosecution authority’s Free State spokesperson Phaladi Shuping.
As the State’s deadline of November 30 to present an indictment to court drew closer, the NPA opted for a provisional withdrawal of the case until such time it is ready.
Shuping told News24, that law enforcement agencies in the country were hard at work with those from the UAE and India to get more evidence in the quest to re-institute the charges.
“Work behind the scenes will continue, and once we are confident with our evidence, the NPA will then consider rescinding the decision to provisionally withdraw the charges.
In January, the Hawks conducted search and seizure operations at former Free State Premier Ace Magashule’s offices and the provincial office of the department of agriculture.
An affidavit revealed that Free State’s agricultural department – then under Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane – allegedly paid R220m to the Guptas and some of their associates in what the Asset Forfeiture Unit calls a “scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department”.
One hundred black emerging farmers were promised five cows each as part of the empowerment scheme, but they never received them.
The farm, which was gifted to the Gupta-linked Estina in 2013, under a free 99-year lease by the provincial agriculture department, has been one of the most scandalous transactions between the Guptas and a government entity, #GuptaLeaks revealed.