Whistleblower Vrede Dairy Farm Project Murdered

The Vrede dairy farm project in the Free State; cows lying in the field.
The Vrede dairy farm project in the Free State.

As the North Gauteng High Court hears the DA’s application for the review of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report on the Vrede dairy farm project on Tuesday, it has emerged that one of the whistleblowers in the project has been murdered.

The body of Philemon Ngwenya, 53, of Thembalihle near Vrede, was found in his shack at Knelvlei Farm, outside Vrede, on Friday, police spokesperson Sergeant Mmako Mophiring said in a statement on Monday.

“It is alleged that on the said day, a passer-by saw the bakkie of [the] deceased parked in the veld, not far from his shack.

“He tried to call his cellphone but it was on voicemail and he informed his family.

“Family members went to the farm where, on their arrival, [they] found his brutally battered body inside the shack. They reported the incident to the police at about 20:30 and a case of murder was registered,” the statement read.

 

‘Not murdered at home’

eNCA reported that Ngwenya had been stabbed with a sharp object and wasn’t murdered at home, quoting an unnamed source.

He was reportedly wrapped in blankets and then moved onto his bed to make it appear as if he was asleep.

In her report, Mkhwebane found procurement irregularities, “gross negligence” and maladministration related to the controversial project.

Among other findings, Mkhwebane found that the agreement between the Free State Department of Agriculture and Estina, the Gupta-linked company that executed the project, seemed to have been invalid.

According to a statement by the DA, Ngwenya was outspoken about the “dubious” farm deal.

‘Beneficiaries were bitter’

“In a news report in August this year, he admitted that beneficiaries were ‘bitter’ and that he ‘didn’t even get R2 from them (those who ran the project)’.

“Recently, there were recordings distributed of a person in Vrede calling for all the beneficiaries to be killed. The recording was forwarded to the police,” DA spokesperson Patricia Kopane said.

According to Kopane, Moses Tshake – an auditor in the Free State Department of Agriculture – was kidnapped, tortured and killed after allegedly questioning payments linked to the controversial farm project in 2013.

“The motive behind the killing is not yet known and anyone with information that may lead to the arrest of the suspect(s) should please contact Vrede police,” the police’s Mophiring said.

News24