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Mkhwebane consulting legal team on appealing Estina dairy farm ruling

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwebane said that she fundamentally disagreed with a court judgment that set aside her report into the Estina dairy farm project in Vrede, declaring it unconstitutional and invalid.

FILE: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwebane said that she fundamentally disagreed with a court judgment that set aside her report into the Estina dairy farm project in Vrede, declaring it unconstitutional and invalid.

The application was brought by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) which believed Mkhwebane's report was a whitewash as implicated politicians were never interviewed.

At least R200 million in public funds meant for emerging black farmers in the Free State town allegedly flowed to Estina, a company with links to the Gupta family.

Some of the money was apparently used to pay for the Gupta family's infamous Sun City wedding in 2013.

Mkhwebane disagreed with Monday's judgment on three grounds.

The first being that a complaint was raised into this matter in May 2016 when the investigation had already wrapped up and before she took office.

Her spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said: “People say she watered down the remedial action and the content of the provisional report, but we’ve been explaining this, even during Advocate Madonsela’s tenure, that a provisional report is a working document, it has no legal status. It’s a draft.”

Segalwe said it was untrue that the Public Protector ignored some information that was already in the public domain.

“Even before Advocate Mkhwebane came into office, there was already a report called The State of Capture and in that report, there was a directive as par to the remedial action that the president should establish a commission of inquiry into state capture.”

He said that Mkhwebane was consulting her legal team on appealing the judgment.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)