Hawks' Matakata and NPA's Abrahams to face off in Parliament over Guptas

The National Prosecuting Authority advocate Shaun Abrahams appears before a parliamentary committee. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Rapport, file)
The National Prosecuting Authority advocate Shaun Abrahams appears before a parliamentary committee. (Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Rapport, file)

Cape Town - National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams has been "invited" to Parliament to explain why the National Prosecuting Authority dragged its feet in giving the Hawks the go-ahead to make arrests in the Estina/Vrede dairy farm state capture case.

Parliament has also called acting Hawks head Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata to appear before a joint sitting of two portfolio committees.

This after Matakata told the portfolio committee on police on Wednesday that the NPA did not "hinder the investigation [into state capture], but they were hindering the progress of taking the matter to court".

READ: DA to take Public Protector Vrede dairy farm report on review

She said the Hawks had a docket ready for their investigation into the Vrede dairy farm case in November 2017, but they only got the go-ahead to make arrests in February.

By that time the now fugitive Ajay Gupta already left the country.

Unhappy MPs

MPs from all parties represented in the committee were unhappy and concerned about this, and the chairperson, Francois Beukman, said he will speak to his counterpart from the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services, Mathole Motshekga.

SPECIAL REPORT: #GuptaLeaks

On Friday, Parliament issued a statement on behalf of Beukman and Motshekga, saying there will be a joint meeting of their committees on Wednesday to "interrogate revelations that the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI/Hawks) investigations into state capture were impeded by slow decision-making by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)".

"The chairpersons indicated that both the head of the NPA, Adv Shaun Abrahams, and the Acting Head of the Hawks, Lieutenant-General Yolisa Matakata, will be invited to the meeting," reads the statement.

Motshekga said it is important for parliamentary committees to collaborate to get a full picture of what occurred.

"We cannot have the public doubt our institutions and, therefore, we need to get to the bottom of this. The NPA will have to explain why there was such a long delay," he said.

Beukman said this meeting will be important to understand the obstacles affecting the Hawks' ability to execute its mandate.

"The efforts of the Hawks to fight organised crime should not be hampered by slow decision-making. Prosecution-driven cases dealing with state capture and court-ready dockets should be prioritised. We are looking forward working with Dr Motshekga and the justice committee so that progress is made in this very important matter," said Beukman.

READ: Seven Vrede dairy farm project accused released on bail

In 2013, the Free State's department of agriculture, then with Mosebenzi Zwane as MEC, gave the Gupta-linked company Estina a 99-year lease on a dairy farm with R220m for an empowerment project.

The Asset Forfeiture Unit would later describe this transaction as a "scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department".

Gupta-linked former ministers

In 2017, the #GuptaLeaks revealed how at least R30m paid to the Guptas via the farm ended up funding the family's lavish Sun City wedding in 2013.

State officials Peter Thabethe, Sylvia Dlamini and Takisi Masiteng and Gupta associates Varun Gupta, Ronica Ragavan, Nazeem Howa and Ashu Chawla and Kamal Vasram appeared in court in February and were granted bail.

The Gupta-linked Zwane went on to become minister of mineral resources but didn't make the cut when President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed his new Cabinet on Monday, along with other Gupta-linked former ministers like Lynne Brown, Des van Rooyen and Faith Muthambi.

Malusi Gigaba, however, retained his place in Cabinet, albeit not as finance minister but as minister of home affairs - the position he held when he waived the residential requirements to allow members of the Gupta-family to become South African citizens.

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