Estina dairy project: Iqbal Sharma remains in custody as two accused granted bail

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  • Two of the four accused in a R24m fraud and money laundering case were granted bail.
  • Seipati Dhlamini and Limakatso Moorosi have been granted bail of R10 000 each.
  • The matter continues on Monday.

Two of the four accused in a fraud and money laundering case, to the tune of just over R24 million, were granted bail in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Thursday. The case is linked to the Estina dairy project.

Limakatso Moorosi, 58, and Seipati Dhlamini, 49, applied for bail following their arrest on Wednesday.

Magistrate Estelle de Lange, in her judgment, said "one must keep in mind [that] the applicants of the court are facing charges, they have not been convicted yet. One cannot keep them in custody in anticipation of a conviction".

READ | NPA asks Interpol to help with arrests, deport Guptas to SA

The pair were subsequently granted bail of R10 000 each, on condition that they appear in court at each postponement date and hand over their passports to the investigating officer.

The State asked the court to consider that it was the applicants' conduct, which was not in accordance with the law, which aided in the government losing R24.9 million.

The matter was rolled over to 7 June for their co-accused, businessman Iqbal Sharma and the former HOD at the Free State agriculture department, Peter Thabethe, to appear in court.

READ | Estina dairy farm: Iqbal Sharma, 3 ex-govt officials appear on fraud, money laundering charge

All four accused made their first appearance in court on Thursday morning following their arrest in the Free State, Gauteng and Mpumalanga on Wednesday.

Thabethe and Sharma were excused and remanded in custody. They are expected to apply for bail on 7 June.

News24 previously reported that Thabethe and Moorosi face a charge of contravening section 86(1) of the Public Finance Management Act.

All four accused face a charge of fraud.

Charge

Sharma and his company, Nulane Investments 204 (Pty) Ltd, face a charge of money laundering, as well as an additional charge of fraud.

Moorosi and Thabethe are former heads of the Free State agricultural department, and Dhlamini was the department's chief financial officer.

iqbal sharma
Iqbal Sharma.

Investigating Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka previously told reporters that Sharma's company was contracted to do a feasibility study on the success of Mohuma Mobung, a flagship Free State government project. The Estina dairy farm and other agricultural projects were part of Mohuma Mobung.

The feasibility study contract was valued at more than R24 million.

According to Seboka, Nulane Investments purportedly subcontracted the feasibility study to Deloitte, who conducted the study for R1.5 million.

"We are alleging that, in order to syphon money out, Nulane then subcontracted another company to purportedly do the same services Deloitte had already done, so the R19 million was paid to that company, which had done nothing," Seboka said.

The matter continues on Monday.

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