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'Gupta involvement not part of Estina probe due to financial constraints'

In her report, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found the Free State Agriculture Department guilty of gross misconduct and maladministration.

FILE: Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

PRETORIA - The Public Protector says she did not investigate the Guptas’ involvement in the Estina Dairy Farm project near Vrede due to constraints around capacity and finances.

In her report released on Friday, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found the Free State Agriculture Department guilty of gross misconduct and maladministration.

Premier Ace Magashule has been ordered to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the implicated parties.

The Hawks raided Magushule’s office as well as the department last month in its probe of state capture related to the farm.

Mkhwebane states in the report that the emails which formed part of the Gupta leaks were noted but did not form part of the scope of their investigation.

She also did not probe how Estina spent the money transferred to the project because that’s currently being investigated by the Hawks.

The Gupta leaks revealed how more than R100 million was laundered through foreign accounts linked to the Guptas and how some of it was used to pay for the lavish Sun City wedding.

The advocate did, however, find that there was no management or monitoring of the project in relation to budget, expenditure control and performance.

IFP WEIGHS IN

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has urged Free State Premier Ace Magashule to act swiftly to implement the remedial action contained in the Public Protector's report.

Mkhwebane has ordered Magashule to institute disciplinary processes against all implicated officials.

The IFP's Mbongeleni Mazibuko said: “We urge him to waste no time in acting because first of all, as the newly-elected leadership of the ANC, they have committed themselves to clean governance and to rooting out corruption and all forms of wrongdoing. And secondly, because fingers have been pointed at Premier Magashule himself.”

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