Hawks arrests reveal more FS scandals - DA will demand answers
2 July 2020
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State Legislature welcomes the arrest of two individuals on allegations of corruption, fraud and money laundering of over R244 million. This remains the tip of a corruption iceberg that has sunk the people in the Free State into a state of poverty and service delivery deficits.
A statement by the National Directorate for Priority Crimes confirms that the allegations relate to a company known as Superior Quality Trading which trades as Rekgonne Community Projects. It appears that the R244 million that was the source of the Hawks' investigation relates to a contract between this company and the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) for the implementation of all agricultural projects in the province. Both the sole director of the company and former CFO will appear in court in Bloemfontein regional Court on 3 July 2020.
The DA has raised concerns about the large amounts of money invested in agricultural projects with no sustainable or successful long term outcomes. Agricultural projects in the Free State remain short term financial candy bars for implementing agents and officials with few long term benefits for beneficiaries or the economy of the province.
This year the DARD has approved R17 251 516,37 to assist 391 beneficiaries in terms of the smallholder help scheme and R94 460 096,35 for 21 farms that have been approved for the Covid agricultural recovery plans. These funds are being distributed to beneficiaries who, according to reports received often only have a few pigs and other employment, while many other deserving people in the province are destitute due to Covid lockdown regulations. The distribution of these funds remains open for political and other abuse, and is a source of further interrogation by the DA.
The DA will demand answers from the MEC for the DARD in the Free State Legislature on the R244 payments to Superior Quality Trading, as we also continue to fight for the rights of beneficiaries who have been robbed of promises of improved livelihoods due to malfeasance at the R350 million Vrede Dairy Project.
Corruption makes poor people poorer, a fact that is being proven over again in the Free State province that is fast becoming the corruption capital of the country.
The Free State Provincial Government is becoming synonymous with milking taxpayers and ploughing the hopes and dreams of beneficiaries of government projects into the barren soil of corruption.
Issued by Roy Jankielsohn, Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Legislature, 2 July 2020