Guptas' Saxonwold compound raided to seize assets related to Vrede dairy farm case

Authorities raided the Guptas' Saxonwold compound on Monday afternoon to seize assets from those implicated in the Vrede dairy farm case, the National Prosecuting Authority said.

"On 11 April 2017, NPA (Asset Forfeiture Unit) obtained a restraint order at the Bloemfontein High Court in the amount of R250 202 652.00 against the assets of several individuals and entities who were implicated in the offences of theft, fraud and money laundering, in respect of the Vrede dairy project: Estina matter," the NPA said in a statement. 

The order was the result of criminal investigations by the Hawks, which led to the arrest and institution of criminal prosecution against several people. 

"The order makes provision for the restraint of several assets to the value of R250 202 652.00, pending the finalisation of the criminal trial and upon conviction, the AFU will apply for a confiscation order for the recovery of the said amount and or any related amounts. 

"Amongst the assets forming part of the restraint order, include the following; immovable property (residential and business premises and farms), two aircrafts, a helicopter, vehicles and bank accounts belonging to certain entities, namely, Oakbay Investments, (Pty) Ltd Islandsite Investments 180, Confidents Concept (Pty) Ltd, Sahara Computer (Pty) Ltd and Westdawn Investments and Aerohaven Trading." 

Around 20 officials entered through the gates of the compound earlier on Monday, while police officers stood outside.

Eight people were arrested by the Hawks during raids at a number of Gupta compounds, including their Saxonwold home and one of their offices in Sandton in February.

The eight were Estina director Kamal Vasram, several former directors at the Gupta's holding company Oakbay - Varun Gupta, Ronica Ragavan, Nazeem Howa and Ashu Chawla, and Free State officials Peter Thabethe, Sylvia Dlamini and Takisi Masiteng. 

In January, the Hawks conducted search and seizure operations at Free State Premier Ace Magashule's offices and the provincial office of the department of agriculture.

An affidavit revealed that Free State's agricultural department – which was then under the leadership of former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane – allegedly paid R220m to the Guptas and some of their associates in what the Asset Forfeiture Unit calls a "scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department".

One hundred black emerging farmers were promised five cows each as part of the empowerment scheme, but they never received them.

Gifted to the Gupta-linked Estina in 2013, under a free 99-year lease by the provincial agriculture department, the farm has been one of the most scandalous transactions between the Guptas and a government entity.

The Gupta Leaks revealed in 2017 how at least R30m paid to the Guptas, via the farm, ended up funding the family's lavish Sun City wedding in 2013.