Home South African DA files for justice for Estina locals over failed Vrede Diary Project

DA files for justice for Estina locals over failed Vrede Diary Project

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The application came as the inquiry into state capture had already heard evidence of how these beneficiaries were cheated into believing that they would be owners of the farms

A TRACTOR drives towards the entrance of the Estina Dairy Farm near Vrede. File picture

Johannesburg – The DA has filed papers in the Bloemfontein High Court to force the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Dard) to appoint 80 beneficiaries of the failed Estina Dairy Farm.

The application came as the inquiry into state capture had already heard evidence of how these beneficiaries were cheated into believing that they would be owners of the farms, but eight years later nothing had happened. Some of them have since lost their livestock while others died while waiting to be confirmed as owners.

DA spokesperson on agriculture and rural development, Dr Roy Jankielsohn, filed the papers in the high court on October 22, emphasising that the provincial government must speed up the appointment of the black farmers.

“The application requests the courts to force the Dard to recognise, verify and appoint the beneficiaries. A project of this nature has no reason to exist without beneficiaries. After an initial R380 million investment into the project, which ended up in the bank accounts of the Gupta-affiliated Estina company, the Dard continues to invest R20 million per annum in the project,” Jankielsohn said.

He said they would argue that this was costing taxpayers a large sum without any benefit to the local community.

“The DA met with a group of these beneficiaries on September 9 on the farm and received their blessing to proceed with the legal proceedings on their behalf. The Vrede Dairy Project is a textbook example of the reasons given by the High Panel report under former president Kgalema Motlanthe, that indicated that the main reasons for the failure of land reform in South Africa was due to corruption, lack of support to beneficiaries and the channelling of resources to elites,” Jankielsohn said.

He said while senior officials in the Dard and others had been charged for the malfeasance that had taken place at this project, the politicians who were the architects of this project still had to be held accountable.

Departmental spokesperson Zimasa Leputla on Thursday said: “The DA’s application to force the department through the courts to recognise, verify and appoint the beneficiaries has come a little too late.

“In March this year, the department already initiated a process of engaging the initial beneficiaries of the project.”

The case is due to be heard on November 26.