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Report: NPA provisionally withdraws charges in Estina farm saga

The accused include Varun Gupta, former Oakbay chief executive Nazeem Howa and former Sahara chief executive Ashu Chawla as well as three Free State government officials.

FILE: The suspects in the Vrede Dairy Farm project case appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court on 15 February 2018. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN

PRETORIA - It’s being reported that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) plans to withdraw charges against Gupta family members and their associates linked to the Estina Dairy Farm scandal.

The Business Day is reporting that the NPA informed the accused in a letter to their attorney this week.

The accused include Varun Gupta, former Oakbay chief executive Nazeem Howa and former Sahara chief executive Ashu Chawla as well as three Free State government officials.

It’s emerged that investigators have not completed their probe of the Guptas and their associates despite making their first court appearance in connection with the Estina Dairy Farm case in February this year.

The newspaper is reporting that prosecutors were required to hand over the completed docket to the defence team next Tuesday but they’re not ready to do so.

Prosecutors have decided to provisionally withdraw the matter, which means it could be re-enrolled at a later stage.

The defence team had complained at the previous court appearance when the state sought postponements that they should have wrapped up the investigation first before hauling their clients to court.

The NPA says a delay in obtaining evidence form their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has led to the decision to provisionally withdraw the Estina case.

The NPA’s Phaladi Shuping says the delay in finalising the case is due to factors beyond their control.

“Unfortunately, in our cooperation with the law enforcement agencies in Dubai and the UAE has been a very slow process with some delays. We were not in a position to get information that we required to assisting in finalising the indictment.”

Shuping says when the accused appear in court next Tuesday, the State will provisionally withdraw the matter.

He says when they’ve finalised the case, prosecutors will reconsider re-enrolling it.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)