Former Free State agriculture dept head Peter Thabethe granted bail after spending weekend in jail

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Peter Thabethe was granted R10 000 bail in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Monday.
Peter Thabethe was granted R10 000 bail in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Monday.
PHOTO: Jeanette Chabalala/News24
  • Former Free State Agriculture and Rural Development head Peter Thabethe appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Monday to apply for bail.
  • Thabethe was arrested last Wednesday.
  • Thabethe had spent the weekend in custody.

Former Free State Agriculture and Rural Development head Peter Thabethe, accused of fraud and money laundering to the tune of R24 million, has been granted R10 000 bail after spending the weekend in custody.

The case is linked to the Estina Dairy Farm project.

Thabethe is among four people who were arrested in connection with the case.

During his bail application, Thabethe said it was in the interest of justice for him to be released on bail.

He told the court that he would not "attempt to influence, intimidate or conceal or destroy evidence".

Thabethe also told the court he will not "commit any offence" and will not endanger anyone's safety.

"I have no desire to flee from police or to avoid the due and proper administration of justice. I have full respect for and full confidence in our justice system and our courts of law and intend standing my trial herein."

READ | State capture inquiry: How Estina's sole director 'created confusion in tracing funds'

Magistrate Estelle de Lange granted him bail, saying it was in the interest of justice to do so.

The court is expected to hear the bail application of former Transnet board member and alleged Gupta family associate Iqbal Sharma on Tuesday.

Last Thursday, two co-accused Limakatso Moorosi, 58, and Seipati Dhlamini, 49, were granted R10 000 bail each.

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

All four accused face a charge of fraud.

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

READ | State capture inquiry: How Estina's sole director 'created confusion in tracing funds'

Investigating Directorate (ID) 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, News24 reported.

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

Seboka said 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.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Sharma's bail application is now expected to be heard on Tuesday.

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