The South African Federation of Trade Unions welcomes the preservation order granted by the Free State high court in Bloemfontein against the Gupta-linked Estina business. Judge AF Jordaan ordered that money “not exceeding” an amount of R220 202 652, money described in the order as being the “proceeds of crime”, be frozen.
Jordaan also ordered that “the remaining extent of the farm Krynaauws Lust 275, district Vrede” in the Free State, which is co-owned by Duduzane Zuma and other entities in the Gupta empire, be preserved. and that the farm be put under curatorship of the NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU).
It was revealed in court that the Free State’s agricultural department – under then MEC Mosebenzi Zane – paid R220 million to the Guptas in what the AFU calls a “scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department”.
The judge found that R220-million was paid to Estina – which was originally set up to develop a dairy farm project in Vrede that would supposedly uplift poor farmers – from two different bank accounts.
The court found that from Estina, the money was then transferred to 15 different recipients, including an amount of R10-million to Atul Gupta, the first time a court has directly name a Gupta family member as a beneficiary of money made through criminal means.
The AFU’s head of operations, Advocate Knorx Molelle, told the court that the farm “is the proceeds and instrumentality of unlawful activities; namely fraud, theft and corruption and money laundering, an irregular government process, including fraudulent assistance from government officials.”
He submitted that “the entire project was a mere facade right from the outset that was aimed at providing a veil of legitimacy to what was evidently a scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department… the entire project, including the land it was located on, were instrumentalities of the evident theft, fraud and money laundering”.
SAFTU congratulates all those, including the federatin itself, whose relentless pressure forced the AFU to act and hopes that this court order and the action by the AFU will be followed by similar action against all those implicated, directly or indirectly in the looting of public funds.