Bail for Gupta associates in dairy farm scandal case

FEBRUARY 15, 2018. Lawyers arrive at the Bloemfontein Regional Court for appearance of five people who were arrested during Hawks raids on various Gupta compounds. The suspects were arrested in connection with investigations into the Free State Vrede dairy farm project.
FEBRUARY 15, 2018. Lawyers arrive at the Bloemfontein Regional Court for appearance of five people who were arrested during Hawks raids on various Gupta compounds. The suspects were arrested in connection with investigations into the Free State Vrede dairy farm project.
Image: ALON SKUY

Bail has been granted to eight accused in the Estina Dairy Farm scandal case which has embroiled mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane and the embattled Gupta family.

The accused‚ Varun Gupta‚ Ashua Chawla‚ Kamal Vasrum‚ Ronica Ragovan‚ Nazeem Howa (who all worked for the Gupta business empire) and Free State agriculture department officials‚ Peter Thebetha‚ Takisi Janki Masiteng and national mineral resources department chief of staff‚ Sylvia Dlamini‚ face a string of charges ranging from fraud and theft to corruption and money laundering.

Gupta is the nephew of the controversial Gupta brothers‚ Ajay‚ Atul and Rajesh — who are at the heart of allegations around state capture.

The 34-page indictment was presented in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Thursday‚ where the accused appeared under a heavy police guard.

It painted a damning picture of how senior government officials allegedly planned and helped the Gupta family to swindle the state through the looting of public funds.

Bail of R200‚000 each was granted to Howa‚ Gupta‚ Chawla and Ragovan while bail of R10‚000 each was granted to Thebetha‚ Dlamini and Masiteng.

They were all granted bail under strict conditions they report to the police stations where they live twice a week‚ surrender their passports‚ not interfere with any witnesses and not leave the provinces where they reside.

Gupta‚ asked for comment as he walked back down to the cells‚ laughed and cracked a smile‚ while Howa and Chawla covered their faces.

The matter was postponed to August 17 for further investigation.

NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaka said they were confident of their case‚ “which we can prove beyond reasonable doubt”.

“We have the evidence‚ and a lot of it‚ to prove the case and allegations we are making.”

He said although bail was granted the NPA was satisfied that the accused would not flee.

“They all have properties and other ties to South Africa. They will remain here that is for sure.”

Eight associates of the controversial Gupta family appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on February 15 2018.

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