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Concerns over cattle dying at Estina farm were raised with Guptas, inquiry told

Former Free State Finance MEC Elizabeth Rockman said she met with Tony Gupta on at least five occasions at their Saxonwold residence where she raised concerns about reports in the media that cattle were dying at the Estina farm.

Former Free State Finance MEC Elizabeth Rockman testifying at the state capture commission of inquiry in Parktown, Johannesburg, on 16 October 2019. Picture: YouTube screengrab

JOHANNESBURG - Former Free State Finance MEC Elizabeth Rockman on Wednesday told the state capture commission of inquiry about her meetings with one of the Gupta brothers to discuss issues related to the controversial Estina dairy farm project.

Rockman said she met with Tony Gupta on at least five occasions at their Saxonwold residence where she raised concerns about reports in the media that cattle were dying at the Estina farm.

In August, former provincial Agriculture Department head Peter Thabethe told the commission they did not conduct background checks on staff put in charge of the project - a factor which may have resulted in cows dying of malnutrition on the farm in 2014.

Rockman said they had to get to the bottom of the problem.

“We were provided with email correspondence from the SPCA which said they had done an onsite inspection and there was no cause for concern. That was two different sets of information we got; on the one hand, the media reported that cows were dying and on the other hand the email from SPCA made it difficult to know who to really believe,” she said.

The commission once again focused on the farm project, which was intended to benefit emerging farmers but instead was used as a vehicle to channel more than R200 million to a company linked to the Guptas.

WATCH : Former FS Finance MEC Elzabe Rockman at state capture inquiry

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