State capture witness claims Vrede cops turned him away when he reported harassment from Zwane’s 'personal force'

2019-07-25 13:21
Mosebenzi Zwane. (Gallo Images)

Mosebenzi Zwane. (Gallo Images)

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The Vrede police station in the Free State has been called out yet again for ignoring political cases relating to the Gupta-linked Estina dairy farm project, the state capture commission of inquiry heard on Thursday.

Former DA councillor Doctor Radebe was attacked by a group of people he referred to as "[former agriculture MEC] Mosebenzi Zwane's personal force" after he reported that cattle carcasses had been dumped at a stream in Vrede.

"I alerted the Department of Environmental Affairs after I reported the dairy carcasses. It caught the attention of Parliament itself. People around Vrede became so violent. They were angry at me because I reported the matter in the press.

"I was attacked personally by people I believe were Zwane's personal force," Radebe told the commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. 

The commission is focusing on the dairy farm project which promised 100 black emerging farmers five cows each as part of an empowerment scheme.

Gifted to Estina in 2013 under a free 99-year lease by the Department of Agriculture in the province, the farm has been one of the most controversial transactions between the Guptas and a government entity, News24 earlier reported.

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

Radebe recalled that during the attack, one person in the group yelled that he "was disturbing the ANC from doing its work".

The former DA councillor approached the Vrede police station to lay a charge.

Police officers allegedly told him they would need to consult their station commander first, who was identified as a Mr Xhasa.

"He [Xhasa] said such cases does not fall in their office and informed me that a certain official from Bethlehem would deal with it as this was a political case – even today , these people from Bethlehem never came back to me," he told the commission.

Zondo highlighted that it was another instance the commission heard about involving claims that the Vrede police station turned citizens away when they wanted to open cases involving allegations of a political nature.

READ: I didn't sign off on Estina dairy farm project, former govt dept head tells Zondo commission

As a result, he instructed the commission's legal team to follow up the matter and report back to him.

Radebe further told the commission one "member" of Zwane's personal force, who he identified as a Bongani Radebe, later apologised to him for the attack and said he was not "thinking" when he engaged in the activity.

"He said that he was duped/not thinking clearly and that he realised I was just fighting for the people of Vrede. He told me my stance is correct. Till this day he still says this," Radebe said.

The inquiry continues.

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