State capture trial: Gupta-linked Nulane case adjourned after NPA fails to locate witness

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A poster with three Gupta brothers.
A poster with three Gupta brothers.
Adrian de Kock, Gallo Images, Netwerk24
  • The Gupta-linked Nulane fraud case has been adjourned until Monday. 
  • This is the NPA's first state capture trial which is being heard in the Bloemfontein High Court. 
  • Former provincial officials and Gupta associates are being tried in connection with the alleged R24.9 million Nulane fraud.

The National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) first state capture trial - the Gupta-linked Nulane case - has been adjourned until Monday after hearing testimonies from several witnesses for more than a week. 

On Thursday, prosecutor advocate Peter Serunye told acting Free State High Court Judge Nompumelelo Gusha the NPA could not locate its next witness in the Eastern Cape, a retired police officer. 

The officer's cellphone was off, he said.

The case was then adjourned until Monday.

The State alleged the Free State Department of Agriculture paid R24.9 million to Nulane, a company owned and controlled by former Transnet board member and Gupta ally Iqbal Sharma, for a fraudulent feasibility study for the province's flagship Mohoma Mobung project - the genesis of the alleged Vrede dairy project scam - in 2011 and 2012.

Even though Nulane had no staff, State witness Shadrack Cezula successfully motivated a deviation from procurement rules to appoint it to perform the feasibility study.

Nulane then subcontracted Deloitte to do that work at a cost of R1.5 million.

READ | Official who pushed for Gupta-linked Nulane to bag contract turns State witness

News24 previously reported Nulane allegedly subsequently changed the findings of the Deloitte-authored study to identify Paras - an Indian dairy farm allegedly linked to the Guptas - as the most suitable implementing partner for setting up a milk processing plant in Vrede, the Free State.

Evidence already led in court includes a memo written by Cezula, who was appointed as the acting head of the Free State agriculture department's supply chain management division by its head, Limakatso Moorosi, in the months before she was alleged to have signed off on a contract between the department and Nulane.

Cezula allegedly made a case for why Nulane should be appointed without normal competitive bidding processes being followed.

This appears to have played a significant role in the company being hired.

The court also heard evidence from Siphiwe Mahlangu, a director of forensic auditing at National Treasury.

News24 reported in one particularly heated interaction, advocate Willem Edeling, for former Free State agriculture department chief financial officer Seipati Dlamini, accused Mahlangu of being a "dog on a leash" in respect of how his testimony was "tailored" to meet the needs of the State.

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