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Zondo surprised by witness' response to questions of due diligence on Estina

Seipati Dlamini was the custodian of finances when then provincial Agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane and department HOD Peter Thabethe bulldozed their way into bringing in the Gupta-linked Estina to run the Vrede Dairy Farm project.

A screenshot of former Free State Agriculture chief financial officer (CFO) Seipati Dlamini. Picture: @SABCDigitalNews/YouTube

JOHANNESBURG - Former Free State Agriculture chief financial officer (CFO) Seipati Dlamini on Wednesday told the state capture commission on Wednesday that she found no need to put the Vrede Dairy Farm project through a bidding process because the Gupta-linked Estina company had promised to invest R200 million.

Ironically, that was the amount of money that was allegedly siphoned from the province.

But Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was more shocked by Dlamini’s interpretation of why this was allowed to happen.

Dlamini was the custodian of finances when then provincial Agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane and department HOD Peter Thabethe bulldozed their way into bringing in the Gupta-linked Estina to run the Vrede Dairy Farm project.

Zondo repeatedly asked Dlamini if she did due diligence, but she either said it was not her responsibility, or that Thabethe had the power to overrule her.

She said that she did not sign the approval for the first R30 million that went into an Estina account that had just R16.

But it was her take on why she allowed all this to happen that surprised Zondo.

“For me, it makes it not practical to subject somebody who is going to invest to a bidding process,” Dlamini said.

Zondo asked her: “Ms Dlamini are you sure that’s the answer you’re giving me?”

“Yes, that’s the answer that I’m giving you chairperson,” she said in response.

Zondo agreed to disagree with Dlamini, saying that she should have insisted that other companies be allowed to bid for the farm.

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