Estina dairy farm: AFU granted order to freeze assets of suspects

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The Estina dairy farm in the Free State suffered similar mismanagement.
The Estina dairy farm in the Free State suffered similar mismanagement.
Conrad Bornman, Netwerk24
  • The Asset Forfeiture Unit has been granted an order to freeze assets belonging to a controversial Free State businesswoman and her co-accused.
  • Lenah Mohapi, her company Superior Quality Trading, former Free State agriculture department CFO Sylvia Dhlamini, and others face charges of forgery, uttering, fraud, corruption and money laundering.
  • The charges are related to the controversial multimillion-rand Estina dairy farm scandal. 

The Asset Forfeiture Unit has been granted an order to freeze assets belonging to suspects who allegedly benefitted from the controversial Free State Estina dairy farm scandal.

The multimillion-rand scandal, which allegedly involved Gupta associates, shocked the country and left legitimate beneficiaries in limbo.

Judge MA Mathebula granted the order in the Bloemfontein High Court against Lenah Mohapi, 55, her company Superior Quality Trading and Seipati Sylvia Dhlamini, 49, the former chief financial officer of the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Some of the affected assets include properties and vehicles as well as movable and immovable items.

Mohapi and Dhlamini were arrested in July 2020.

They have since appeared in court.

In September last year, Mohapi, Dhlamini and Superior Quality Trading, were joined by head of department Mbana Thabethe, 54, as well as members of the department's bid adjudication committee Lerato Mngomezulu, 39, Disebo Masiteng, 59, Mokemane Ndumo, 52 and Mahlomola Mofokeng, 55. 

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said Mohapi's assets included SS Mimosa Heights in Johannesburg purchased on 22 February 2017 for R1.5 million, another property in Bloemfontein purchased on 6 September 2013 for more than R1.6 million and SS Library Mansions in Bloemfontein purchased on 6 June 2011 for R640 000.

Mohapi's collective value of her immovable assets based on their purchased price at the time was R4 780 000.

She also has five vehicles, a caravan and tractor registered under her name valued at more than R2.3 million. 

READ | State capture inquiry: Estina was 'used to launder cash' prior to initiation of dairy project

The suspects are currently out on R10 000 bail.

They are collectively facing 54 counts of forgery, uttering, fraud, corruption and money laundering.

The breakthrough in the case was made by the Hawks during a probe into the Gupta-run Estina company's financial flow.

They analysed bank accounts and discovered irregularities and disguised payments to one of the officials. 

Ngwema said government officials allegedly gave contracts to Superior Quality Trading, which also trades as Rekgonne Community Projects, even though the company did not attend any of the department's compulsory briefing sessions.

"The company also had a certificate of attendance yet it was not present at the compulsory briefing where certificates were issued. Between 2012 and 2016, the department allegedly paid more than R244 million to the company.

"It is further alleged that Mohapi then paid huge sums of money into Dhlamini's account. Those payments were disguised as Refund Telkomsa and Medical services," he added.

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