NPA eager for Estina dairy farm trial to get under way

The NPA's Investigating Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said that they had completed their investigations and they would be ready to hand over their full docket to the defence team when all the suspects appeared in court in early July.

FILE: National Prosecuting Authority offices in Pretoria. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said that it was eager to get going on the trial of 16 accused in connection with the Estina dairy scandal.

On Tuesday, Iqbal Sharma, an alleged Gupta aide and one of the accused, was denied bail.

Sharma and three others were arrested last week over their alleged role in plundering state funds. The others were freed on bail but Sharma will remain behind bars pending trial.

The Bloemfontein Magistrates Court denied him bail because the State made a strong case that he was a flight risk, citing his ties and access to the Gupta fortune, as well as hundreds of millions of rand held in a Dubai bank account in his name that he failed to declare.

“We are very encouraged by the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court’s decision to deny Iqbal Sharma bail,” said the NPA's Investigating Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka.

Seboka said that they had completed their investigations and they would be ready to hand over their full docket to the defence team when all the suspects appeared in court in early July. She said that they were hoping that the trial would start sooner rather than later.

“We want this matter to be ventilated and to be ventilated as quick as possible,” she added.

The Estina dairy project was meant to be a vehicle for emerging black farmers to grow their businesses but it became a conduit for the Gupta family and their associates to siphon state funds out of the country.

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