JOHANNESBURG – The state capture commission of inquiry has heard how rightful tenants were thrown off the land they were leasing to make way for the Estina dairy project.
The project was meant to help emerging farmers but wound up being a vehicle to shunt hundreds of millions of rand to companies linked to the Gupta family.
The project has been the focus of the inquiry this week.
Moses Moremi said he initially refused to sign contracts presented by Estina lawyers and the Free State Agriculture Department’s head of department Peter Thabethe.
“It is where the municipality is ceding its rights and titles on the land to the provincial government and the HOD said: ‘This contract is so key and you must sign it’. But I said I can’t sign a contract that did not go before council.”
Moremi said that the contract was eventually signed and the farmers who were occupying the land were forced out.
He said that after taking over the land and agreeing to pay the municipality, the department struggled to meet that obligation.