The Investigating Directorate (ID) and the Hawks arrested a high profile Gupta business associate and three former Free State Agriculture Department heads across three provinces on Wednesday.

The arrest of a fifth suspect is imminent.

Investigating Directorate spokesperson, Sindisiwe Seboka, said the ID working together with the Hawks, had swooped on the Gupta association and other three suspects on Wednesday morning.

“The NPA Investigating Directorate (ID) can confirm that a high-profile businessman has been arrested along with three former Free State Department of Agriculture officials this morning.  The ID enforced the arrest working with the Hawks. The arrest of a fifth suspect is imminent,” Seboka said in a statement.

Seboka said the suspects had been arrest in a separate matter that was related to the Vrede Estina dairy project scandal. She said they were facing charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering.

“The group was arrested in the Free State, Gauteng, and Mpumalanga and will appear in  the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court tomorrow, 3 June 2021, at 9am,” Seboka said.

Last year, five former and current officials at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State were arrested and released on R10 000 bail each.

The suspects appeared before the Bloemfontein Regional Court on Tuesday, 18 August 2020, to face charges of corruption, money laundering and fraud to the tune of R245 million.
The group was nabbed over millions which were paid to a company called Superior Quality Trading, which also trades as Rekgonne Community Projects.

The authorities said they first got wind of suspicious activity in a bank account when they were investigating the Estina Dairy farm case where millions which were meant for aspiring black farmers were funnelled into Gupta-linked bank accounts.

Their names are: Lerato Mngomezulu (39), Disebo Masiteng (59), Mokemane Ndumo (52), Mahlomola Mofokeng (55) and Mbana Thabethe (54)
According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the first four were members of the bid evaluation committee, and Thabethe was the head of the department.

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Presh JM Reporter

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