- New documents suggest that several government officials met with the Guptas prior to the Estina dairy farm project
- These include former agriculture minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, among others
- The project would later end in scandal, with accusations that it funneled government funds to several Gupta-linked companies and individuals
Newly-discovered records indicate that several government officials met with members of the Gupta family in the lead-up to the Vrede dairy farm project.
Most notably, former agriculture minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, reportedly met with Rajesh "Tony" Gupta at the family's Saxonwold residence.
Their meeting took place shortly before the Department of Agriculture gave the go-ahead for the project.
The Vrede dairy farm project was a an initiative initially launched by the Free State government in 2012, ostensibly aimed at empowering small-scale farmers. However, the venture ended in scandal as only 1% of the funds set aside for the project were spent on farming.
The rest was pocketed by several individuals and companies linked to the Guptas, Briefly.co.za has gathered.
Now, documents unearthed by News24, among others, paint a fuller picture of the shady dealings that led up to the project. For example, Joemat-Pettersson allegedly met with Tony Gupta shortly before the agriculture department submitted a request to the provincial treasury to allocate more funds to the Vrede project.
Additionally, several other key role-players in the project are said to have met with the Guptas while the project's business plan was being considered by the department.
These include then-premier, Ace Magashule, and former communications minister, Dina Pule. According to Magashule's own diary, he visited the Guptas' Saxonwold home at least twice in 2013 alone. Magashule has not responded to queries concerning these meetings.
More details about the project are expected to follow.
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