AS IT HAPPENED | Vrede dairy farm project documents were signed off without approval, authorisation, #StateCaptureInquiry hears

2019-07-24 16:00

The judicial commission of inquiry into state capture is continuing with testimony related to the Gupta-linked Estina dairy farm project in Vrede, in the Free State.


(Courtesy of SABC) 

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo

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Last Updated at 17:05
24 Jul 17:51

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24 Jul 17:13
Gcabashe says that attempts were made to contact Parasa by the legal teams.

24 Jul 17:09
Masiteng doesn't know about HOD Thatbete going to India to meet with Paras.

24 Jul 17:05

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24 Jul 16:07

Zondo requests a short adjournment before proceedings continue, as they are expected to run later than usual again. Zondo adjourns for 10 minutes.

24 Jul 16:06

Gcabashe moves Masiteng's testimony along, and asks where the actual idea for the Vrede dairy farm project came from. Masiteng says it started with a focus on the Mohuma Mobung strategy, focused on farming in rural areas.

24 Jul 16:03

Masiteng says the CFO signed off on the exco agreement, and the deviation from normal procedures. He says she could have refused to sign off on the document, but says that exco resolutions are a "must do" and if you refused, it would be like rendering the whole exco redundant.

24 Jul 15:45

24 Jul 15:38

A document seeking approval for the dairy farm is in question - Masiteng says he never authorised the person who had signed on his behalf, where the documents indicate his name. Masiteng says he was not even consulted, and was in China at the time.

24 Jul 15:23

24 Jul 15:17

Zondo asks Masiteng if it is his understanding that a subordinate is required to carry out an instruction, even if the instruction is unlawful. Masiteng says no, unless the superior says they have done the necessary work and ensured everything is right. If a subordinate does not feel comfortable with an instruction, they must put their dissent in writing, says Masiteng. 

Masiteng says there is no obligation on the subordinate to do anything they do not agree with. 

24 Jul 15:02

Masiteng explains that the HOD reports to the MEC, who reports to the premier. The premier can give directions to the MEC. 

Gcabashe asks Masiteng if the premier can instruct an HOD who to contract with. Masiteng says if the request is made, the HOD needs to alert the accounting officer/CFO. 

24 Jul 14:53

Masiteng explains who Alta Meyer and (George) Madiba were and how they fit into the department. Meyer and Madiba were both brought up in the earlier testimony of the Vrede dairy farm project beneficiaries.

Masiteng also clarifies that Thuto Kganye, also mentioned by the beneficiaries, was a "food security officer". He refers to Kganye as a "foot soldier".

Dhlamini alleged that Kganye was a "spy" for Zwane.

24 Jul 14:49

Masiteng explains in detail the organisational structure of the department. He says the political head responsible for the department is the MEC, who was Mosebenzi Zwane at the time, in 2012. 

24 Jul 14:39

24 Jul 14:38

24 Jul 14:38

Masiteng briefly summarises his qualifications and background, says he joined the Department of Agriculture in QwaQwa when it was still part of the homelands. He resigned from the department to become a lecturer, but returned to the department in 2002.

Masiteng confirms that he knows Peter Thabethe, former head of the department, and also worked under him.

24 Jul 14:27

Back from the break, the commission will now hear testimony from the next witness, Dr Takisi Masiteng, acting head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State.

Advocate Leah Gcabashe will be leading evidence.

24 Jul 13:17

Ncongwane wraps up his testimony by corroborating Dhlamini's evidence about the death threats. 

Zondo thanks and excuses Ncongwane.

Zondo calls for the lunch adjournment. Back at 14:15.

24 Jul 13:15

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24 Jul 12:59

24 Jul 12:53

24 Jul 12:52

Ncongwane says they had asked Madiba at the meeting if they are going to have to keep on re-registering as beneficiaries each time there is a new chief director. Madiba told them that he was new in the field and he needed some clarity. 

Ncongwane says Madiba told them that he needed the beneficiaries to be screened. Ncongwane says one of the community members asked if this was a government project or a private project, and he says they were told it was a government project.

24 Jul 12:45

Ncongwane says Mr Madiba addressed the meeting as if he was the one who had organised it.

24 Jul 12:44

24 Jul 12:42

24 Jul 12:35

24 Jul 12:33

Ncongwane clarifies that it was the farmers who selected the committee, and not Alta Meyer. While Meyer said a committee must be set up, it was the farmers who selected the people. 

Ncongwane says June Mahlaba was chosen as chairperson, Lindiwe Masiteng as secretary, and James Ngqusini as the treasurer. The committee was meant to be the eyes and ears of the farmer, says Ncongwane, but no updates were ever given. 

24 Jul 12:22

24 Jul 12:15

24 Jul 12:13

Ncongwane says most of the people who attended these meetings were old, and as people who grew up on the farms, they did not expect that they would end up before the commission, so there were no official records of meetings held for the project.

24 Jul 12:06

Ncongwane says he gave up on his requests for land from the municipality. Then, in early 2012, he heard at meetings in the area that there would be a dairy farm which would be unveiled. 

Ncongwane says he was the chairperson of the National African Farmers Union in Vrede. 

24 Jul 11:59

Ncongwane says the letter he had written to Vrede mayor, John Motaung, requesting land to farm on from the government, was clear and written in English. Motaung, however, told him that he did not understand it - Ncongwane says he did not ask Motaung which parts he did not understand.

24 Jul 11:51

24 Jul 11:47

Ncongwane confirms that he resides in Vrede, and he is a cattle and dairy farmer.

Ncongwane is also giving his testimony in isiZulu, with the help of the translator.

24 Jul 11:42

Back from the break, the next witness - Meshack Mpaleni Ncongwane - is sworn in and takes his seat. 

Ncongwane is another of the Vrede farmers who were meant to benefit from the Estina dairy farm project. 

24 Jul 11:24

Zondo thanks Dhlamini for coming forward and providing very helpful testimony on the Vrede dairy farm project, and excuses him from the witness stand. 

Zondo calls for the morning tea adjournment. Back in 15 minutes. 

24 Jul 11:22

24 Jul 11:22

Dhlamini tells Zondo that his request is that the Vrede dairy farm project be closed down as it was not meant for them, as the community, but it was created for thieves. 

Dhlamini says the farmers should have been 100% shareholders of the project. Dhlamini also says the dairy project has many issues - stock is being stolen and there's no success that will ever come out of this project.

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