Was whistleblower tortured to death?

Free State government auditor dies after being brutally assaulted by gang

Mystery surrounds the death of an auditor who investigated corruption of millions of rands for the Free State agriculture and rural development department.

Moses Tshake (36), the department’s chief auditor, died last month after he was hijacked and brutally assaulted in February.

Sources say he had raised questions about the strange payment of millions of rands for controversial government projects.

Tshake’s colleague, Vuyisile Mlambo, a manager in the department, was also hijacked in April in Bloemfontein.

It is unclear whether the same gang was responsible for both attacks.

Enquiries by City Press’ sister newspaper, Volksblad, revealed that Tshake was admitted to hospital on February 22 after he was allegedly hijacked in Bloemfontein and dragged behind a bakkie.

According to his father, David, Tshake suffered head and other injuries.

He said his son’s hands were also broken.

A hospital employee with knowledge of his injuries said: “It (his injuries) were indicative of torture.”

Tshake died in the Bloemfontein Medi-Clinic on May 11.

David Tshake did not want to speculate about whether his son may have been the victim of a hit.

He said no one has been arrested in connection with his son’s murder yet.

“I am very sad. He was a good son to me,” Tshake said.

Sergeant Thabo Litabe, police spokesperson, said no information was discovered about Tshake’s murder.

He confirmed the hijacking of Mlambo on April 21, but said nobody had yet been arrested.

City Press learnt Mlambo has been on sick leave for a long time and is now being treated in a psychiatric hospital in Bloemfontein.

Moliehi Tlhobelo, the spokesperson for the Free State agriculture and rural development department, said they could not comment because it was a personal matter.

She said the attacks are being investigated by the police.

» Questions have recently been raised about the department’s expenditure of millions of rands on questionable projects.

Volksblad recently revealed that the Gupta family was linked to a R250 million dairy farm project in Vrede.

City Press was told the Guptas are major players in the dairy project. Some of those involved in the project were apparently told not to disclose the involvement of the Guptas.

Gary Naidoo, the Gupta family spokesperson, said the company Linkway Projects, a subsidiary company of the Guptas, was initially a project consultant in the dairy project.

He said the family is not involved in the project at present.

But the middle brother, Atul Gupta, visited the farm regularly at one stage, Volksblad reported.

Kamal Vasram, a director of Estina (a major player in the dairy project), is also linked to the Guptas through mutual business associates.

The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that Estina used the same registered address in Sandton as several Gupta businesses.

Vasram did not respond to requests for comment.

The sustainability and viability of this project and a Gariep fish-breeding project have been questioned.

In addition, there had been earlier reports about tractors and other agricultural equipment in the Free State gathering dust.

The tractors and equipment are apparently meant for emerging farmers.

Peter Frewen, DA spokesperson on local government, says nothing is going on at the Gariep Dam’s fish-breeding station. He says the building stands empty.

According to Frewen, the initial budget for the project was R40 million. It was reported earlier that China had allocated R60 million over a few years to breathe new life into the fish-breeding project.

In addition, the department’s fishing project is being expanded.

Free State MEC for Agriculture, Mamiki Qabathe, said in her budget speech that 78 fish tanks would be built at Springfontein, Koffiefontein, Bethulie, Petrusburg, Zastron and Fauresmith as part of this project.

She said the department was in the planning process for the erection of a fish-processing plant at the Gariep Dam. According to Qabathe, R11 million would be used for this.

Mzwandile Hleko, Cope’s provincial secretary and the party’s chief whip in the Free State legislature, said the agriculture department does not plan properly.

He believes it may be deliberate so that corrupt individuals can steal money.

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