Vrede dairy farm: DA feels 'vindicated' by court ruling on Public Protector

The Democratic Alliance has claimed victory after the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had failed in her duties to investigate and report on the controversial Free State Vrede dairy project.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in a media statement on Monday that the judgment was a victory in the fight against corruption.

The party, together with the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), applied last year to have Mkhwebane's report on the project declared unconstitutional, and to have it reviewed and set aside.

On Monday, Judge Ronel Tolmay ruled in their favour. She reserved judgment on costs. 

Maimane said they were one step closer to seeking justice for the more than 100 intended beneficiaries of the "sham empowerment scheme".

"When I met with these intended beneficiaries in Vrede almost two years ago, I undertook to fight this matter on all fronts. The DA laid the initial complaint with the Public Protector and, following the release of her report, we held the view that the report was a 'whitewash', as it failed to hold to account those responsible for the theft of almost R200m of public money. Today, the Gauteng High Court has vindicated our view, as it held this report to be unconstitutional and invalid.

"Instead of empowering those who are left out of the economy, over 100 black South Africans were used as a front for a calculated scheme of grand corruption and money laundering to benefit the Guptas and their friends in the ANC. Between the Guptas and the ANC, economic opportunity was stolen from black South Africans. This is a crime of the most reprehensible nature, and those responsible must face the full might of the law," said Maimane.

READ: Vrede dairy farm project: Gauteng High Court rules Public Protector's report is unconstitutional

In July 2017, the DA laid criminal charges against those implicated in the project. The charges included: money laundering; racketeering; assisting another to benefit from the proceeds of unlawful activities; and acquiring, possessing or using the proceeds of unlawful activities in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1998.

'Her job is to protect the public'

Maimane claimed that, a month later after laying criminal charges, he then hand-delivered a legal indictment containing over 200 pages of prima facie evidence of these crimes to the Hawks.

"I will now urgently seek an update from National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv Shamila Batohi, as to progress on this investigation. It is high time that the criminal justice system does its job. It's been almost one and a half years since Cyril Ramaphosa became president and vowed to fight corruption.

"Yet today, not a single person implicated in corruption has been held accountable and put behind bars. Instead, the chief architects of corruption – like Ace Magashule, Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane and Mosebenzi Zwane – remain in charge and occupy ANC benches in Parliament.

Maimane said it was unacceptable that the alleged perpetrators in this matter had not yet being charged. He also accused Mkhwebane of being hell-bent on wasting precious funds on spurious litigation.

"In fact, a disproportionate amount of Mkhwebane's budget has been wasted on unsuccessful litigation, when this money ought to be spent on protecting the interests the people of South Africa and holding the powerful to account. We urge her to accept this judgment and to go back to the drawing board. Her job is to protect the public, which includes the over 100 victims of the Vrede dairy project," concluded Maimane.

Both the Public Protector's office and Casac told News24 that they needed time to study the judgment before responding. 

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