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NPA intensifies efforts to extradite co-accused in R25 million Estina case

The national prosecuting authority (NPA) Investigating Directorate (ID) has said that it has intensified its efforts to extradite the co-accused in the R25 million Estina related case.

This after the Bloemfontein Regional Court on Monday postponed the criminal case relating to the R25 million Nulane Investment case to  28 September for the additional accused to be added to the matter.

NPA ID spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said the “mission” to prosecute persons outside of South African borders implicated in the case has not been abandoned.

“However, we have also intensified our efforts with mutual legal assistance to get international bodies or instruments to aid us in that mission in order to get them back into the South African borders in order to stand trial,” Seboka said.

The NPA will, in the interim, will continue with the prosecution without delay of those who are currently in South Africa, Seboka added.

“The rest of the accused will reappear on 08 October 2021,” Seboka said.

Seboka said the accused in the matter are former Transnet Board member and Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma; former Nulane Investment employee, Dinesh Patel; former Free State head of Department for Rural Development (FSDoRD), Peter Thabethe; former head of FSDoA, Limakatso Moorosi and former FSDoA Chief Financial Officer, Seipati Dhlamini. They respectively face charges of contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, fraud and money laundering.

Thabethe has given testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture on the Estina dairy matter.

“The case relates to procurement fraud involving R24.9 million paid between November 2011 and April 2012 by the Free State Department of Agriculture (FSDoA) to Nulane Investment 204 (PTY) LTD, a company of which Sharma was both a director and shareholder.

“The R24.9m was purportedly paid to Nulane to conduct a feasibility study for the Free State Province’s flagship Mohoma Mobung project, on the basis that Nulane had unique skills to perform the work.

“The state has not been in a position to secure the attendance of some of the accused at court. Mutual Legal Assistance processes to bring them before a South African court to face these charges are underway. To avoid unnecessary delays in the finalization of the criminal trial against the accused already before the Court, the State will bring the remainder of the accused persons before a court in a separate trial, once their attendance in a South Africa court has been secured,” Seboka said.

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