Mkhwebane to probe Magashule, Zwane's roles in Estina dairy farm saga

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she will now launch a probe into Ace Magashule and Mosebenzi Zwane in relation to the Vrede dairy farm scandal.

FILE: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on 4 December 2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she will investigate the involvement of former Free State premier Ace Magashule and former MEC Mosebenzi Zwane in the Gupta-linked Vrede dairy farm project.

Mkhwebane made the commitment on Tuesday at the urging of Parliament’s justice portfolio committee.

She came under fire in February for the report she released on the project, which involved the looting of more than R200 million intended for emerging farmers because it did not investigate the role played by either Magashule or Zwane.

The Public Protector says she has no power to investigate the Guptas but will now launch a probe into former Free State premier and former MEC in relation to the Estina Dairy farm scandal.

“We’ll have to investigate the public officials, what role did they play in this particular matter and whether they are implicated or not.”

Mkhwebane says her office will also speak to those meant to benefit. But she defended her office’s report on the project, which was labelled a whitewash, saying it had been completed before she became Public Protector.

"The investigation was complete, the report was ready already in 2015."

She’s told the justice committee she will report back to it at the end of this month on how long she expects the investigation to take.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)