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Ex-FS Agri official denies mismanagement claims over Vrede dairy farm matter

Peter Thabethe is testifying at the state capture commission, where he is being questioned about his involvement in the failed project.

A YouTube screengrab shows Peter Thabethe, the former head of the Free State Agriculture Department, at the state capture inquiry on 20 August 2019.

PRETORIA - The former head of the Free State Agriculture Department has denied the allegation of mismanagement when he signed off on the department’s commitment to fund the disastrous Vrede dairy farm project.

Peter Thabethe was testifying at the state capture commission, where he was questioned about his involvement in the failed project.

What was supposed to have benefited emerging farmers was instead used as a vehicle to siphon millions of rands into companies linked to the Guptas.

Advocate Leah Gcabashe read from the Public Finance Management Act which requires an accounting officer not to commit a department to liability without first being allocated funds.

“Due to signing the agreement, it committed the department to obligations and money that had not been appropriated to meet those obligations. Do you agree with me?”

Thabethe responded: “Chair, the agreement had been agreed upon. You agree and allocate the money.”

The evidence revealed that Thabethe signed off on the project before obtaining approval and a budget.

WATCH: State capture inquiry proceedings on 20 August 2019