Hawks did not investigate death threats, Estina beneficiary tells state capture inquiry

2019-07-24 13:35
The Estina dairy farm in Vrede. (Conrad Bornman, Netwerk24)

The Estina dairy farm in Vrede. (Conrad Bornman, Netwerk24)

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Death threats aimed at Estina dairy farm project beneficiary Ephraim Dhlamini were not investigated by the Hawks, the state capture commission of inquiry heard on Wednesday.

These threats were made shortly after the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) visited the project in the Free State and closed it down, the commission heard.

"They did not inform me that they were coming and that they were looking for me. Next thing I heard, Vrede police were looking for me.

READ MORE: 'I do not trust the Public Protector' - Estina dairy farm project beneficiary

"I went to them and they told me that they shut down the project, together with the NPA and that they have compiled all of the assets that are there," Dhlamini testified at the inquiry, where the spotlight was on the Gupta-linked project.

Following his interaction with the Hawks, Dhlamini said he received a call from a brigadier in Pretoria who he did not name. He said the two arranged a date in January 2019 for all the beneficiaries to meet with the Hawks and the NPA.

Dhlamini then recalled receiving a video detailing a plot to have him murdered.

"In the video, a person says they have hired a hitman to kill me, it did not show any faces of the people speaking but the name Zwakele was mentioned," he explained.

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Once he received the clip, Dhlamini immediately notified a Mr Ntombela from the Hawks, he said.

"I forwarded it to a Mr Ntombela from the Hawks. He told me to take care of myself. I even started going to church armed. I then took a decision that anyone who comes close to me, I will not die alone," he said.

The video was sent on June 11, 2019.

Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked the witness if he had received any feedback since he sent the video to authorities.

"To this day the Hawks have not taken a statement regarding this video. The Hawks have done nothing. I made a mistake by giving this video to them. I realise there is a law to protect us but it is not working in our favour.

"It is so sad that people are threatening to kill you and the law does nothing, therefore it is difficult for me to hand myself over to these people," he said.

READ MORE: Vrede dairy farm project whistleblower found murdered

Dhlamini also told the commission that he was not alone because many people were afraid to speak about the project, fearing that it could cost them their lives.

"In Vrede, once you mention the dairy project or [former Agriculture MEC] Mosebenzi Zwane, you will not sleep in your house. You will have to run away because your life would be threatened," he said.

The dairy project, gifted to Estina in 2013 under a free 99-year lease by the provincial agriculture department, was intended to be an empowerment scheme in which emerging black farmers were promised five cows each, News24 earlier reported.

The inquiry continues.

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Read more on:    estina  |  hawks  |  ephraim dhlamini  |  johannesburg ­  |  state capture

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