The Free State Provincial Government has committed itself to fully cooperate with the Hawks as they investigate matters relating to allegations of impropriety at Gupta owned Vrede Dairy Farm.
The commitment comes as search and seizure operations by the Hawks started at the offices of the Free State Premie as well as the Agriculture Department. It’s understood the investigation relates to the Estina dairy farm project near Vrede in which the Guptas pocketed millions. The Asset Forfeiture Unit obtained a preservation order with regards to the more than 4,000 hectares of farm land and the more than R220 million in several bank accounts linked to the Guptas.
“We wish to assure the public that we will cooperate with all law enforcement authorities doing investigations on this matter. It is, in fact, in our interest that this matter is brought to its finality to allow the Free State Provincial Government to continue its work of changing the lives of the people for the better,” said the Director General in the office of the Premier, Kopung Ralikontsane.
The Hawks confirmed on Friday morning that they are currently conducting search and seizure operations at both the office of Free State Premier Ace Magashule and the provincial office of the Department of Agriculture in Bloemfontein.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed that the raids are related to the Vrede Dairy matter, which is at the centre of the R220 million allegedly paid to the controversial Gupta family and companies linked to their businesses.
Last week, the Bloemfontein High Court granted an order to freeze assets amounting to R220 million, including the Krynaauwslust Farm in Vrede in the Free State.
According to court papers filed by the National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit last week in support of a preservation order, allegations were that the project channelled money to the Gupta family and a host of other individuals.
“We wish to thank the members of the public for their patience on the matter, and we wish to commit that we will regularly update them on this matter as well as on all our activities which are implemented in line with our mandate,” said the office the Free State Premier on Friday.