Hawks raid Magashule's office over Vrede Dairy case

The Hawks head offices. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Beeld)
The Hawks head offices. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Beeld)

Bloemfontein - The Hawks are currently conducting search and seizure operations relating to the Vrede Dairy matter, at both the office of Free State Premier Ace Magashule and the provincial office of the Department of Agriculture.

Two specialised units of the Hawks were on Friday searching for specific documents and electronic data linked to the case, spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed to News24.

"If there is a need for us to confiscate or seize, then we have those members present as well, and they are also downloading everything," Mulaudzi said.

"We are dealing with criminal cases, not civil cases."

They will be there all day on Friday, and will be going to the farm on Saturday to speak to the beneficiaries.

Farm seized

Magashule faced a barrage of questions from the media on Monday relating to his role as premier in the failed Free State project. It was supposed to empower small black farmers in line with the ANC's transformation policies.

The court order issued by the Free State High Court last Thursday puts Krynaauws Lust farm, near Vrede, in the Free State, under curatorship of the NPA's Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU).

The affidavit also revealed that Free State's agricultural department – under then MEC Mosebenzi Zwane – paid R220m to the Guptas in what the AFU calls a "scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department".

- Read more about the dairy project: Inside the Gupta heist

One hundred black emerging farmers were promised five cows each as part of the empowerment scheme, but they never received them.

Gifted to the Gupta-linked Estina in 2013 under a free 99-year lease by the provincial agriculture department, the farm has been one of the most scandalous transactions between the Guptas and a government entity.

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

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