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We lost trust in Mkhwebane, Estina dairy farm beneficiary tells Zondo Inquiry

An intended beneficiary of the Estina dairy farm project has told the state capture commission of inquiry that they do not trust the Public Protector because they feel they were excluded in the investigation of the project.

A screengrab of Ephraim Makhosini Dhlamini giving testimony at the state capture inquiry on 24 July 2019.

JOHANNESBURG - An intended beneficiary of the Estina dairy farm project has told the state capture commission of inquiry that they do not trust the Public Protector because they feel they were excluded in the investigation of the project.

Ephraim Dhlamini made the submission at the public hearings in Parktown on Wednesday.

At least R200 million in public funds meant for emerging black farmers like Dhlamini was channeled in a company called Estina, which was linked to the Gupta family.

The High Court in Pretoria reviewed and set aside Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report and remedial action, finding that she failed in her duties to properly investigate the matter.

Speaking through a translator, Dhlamini said that they lost trust in Mkhwebane.

"We heard that she came and visited the Vrede dairy project, we heard that from the employees of the project but she never came to us. She went there but never came to see us."

He was asked why they had lost trust in the Public Protector.

"The first report which was issued, how did she arrive at the facts which are contained in the report? Who did she speak to or investigate? How did she conduct her investigation without consultation?"

WATCH: Estina dairy farm beneficiaries give testimony at inquiry

DEATH THREATS AND MURDERS

Dhlamini added that the community felt they were simply used as a front to allow people to steal money from the government.

He said the community wanted finality on the Estina dairy farm project because they had been left despondent.

"People in our area live in fear. If the government is taking a decision of not funding the project anymore and shut it down, so be it, because it is clear that this project was never meant for the benefit of us as the community of Vrede but it was just for criminal activity."

Dhlamini said he has received death threats for speaking out about the corruption related to the project, while others in the community have been murdered.

He said that although this had been reported, the Hawks have not investigated the threats nor provided any protection.