South Africa: Former Free State Agriculture Head Admits Department 'Taken for a Ride' in Estina Payments

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The Zondo commission of inquiry into State Capture heard more unbelievable testimony from Peter Thabethe, a former head of department for Agriculture and Rural Development in Free State. This time the testimony related to a R106-million cancellation payment made to Gupta-linked company Estina for the Vrede Dairy farm project, despite a scathing report on the project's inadequacies.

Former Free State head of department for Agriculture and Rural Development Peter Thabethe seemed puzzled when probed about a R106-million cancellation payment made to Estina for the Vrede dairy farm project, even though it seemed the entity did a lousy job.

The chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo continuously had to intervene during Thabethe's testimony on Monday 28 October to rephrase questions posed by evidence leader Leah Gcabashe SC, following numerous attempts seemingly made by the witness to evade and pre-empt the questions posed.

Gcabashe pointed out to Thabethe that an assessment study was commissioned by the Free State Development Corporation (FDC) to assess work done on the processing plant.

"The report highlights the current scenario of the plant and it points to a need for an intervention and change in strategy," said Gcabashe.

"1. The building needs to be...

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