DA files application for beneficiaries to be recognised in Vrede Dairy project

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State has filed an application in the High Court in Bloemfontein to force the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the province to recognise 80 beneficiaries of the Gupta-linked Vrede Dairy project.

Party leader in the Free State legislature, Roy Jankielsohn says the beneficiaries have in the last eight years been sidelined at the project.

Jankielsohn says this is in spite of a contract that exists between them and the department that allocates them 51% share in the project.

“Initially, R380 million was spent on the Vrede Dairy Project and the Department of Agriculture (and) Rural Development continues to spend R20 million a year on this project without any visible beneficiaries on the project. A project of this nature cannot exist without beneficiaries and the DA has, therefore, approached the High Court to ensure that beneficiaries of the project are recognised.”

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, during a media briefing in Pretoria, said that the investigation had identified all implicated parties and they have been served with notices.

The Vrede Dairy Project was established in 2012 on the Krynaauwslust farm near Vrede in the Free State. The Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State says it has noted the application filed at the High Court in Bloemfontein by the DA on behalf of the Vrede Dairy beneficiaries.

In a statement, the department says in March this year the department had already initiated a process of engaging the initial beneficiaries of the project, through a consultative session that took place in Vrede. The session was attended by the rightful beneficiaries of the project including family representatives of those who had already passed on.

The department says the process of verifying the correct beneficiaries has since unfolded and the department hopes to conclude the process by the end of November this year.