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#StateCaptureInquiry Today's proceedings begin. Advocate Zinhle Buthelezi introduces Doctor Albert Radebe, who is a former Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor Phumelela Local Municipality. He takes the oath.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says he's an emerging farmer in the Vrede area. "That's where I farm," he says. Buthelezi asks of his involvement in the municipality in 2012. He says he was a DA councillor at the time. He speaks of an event on 19 June 2012 during a council meeting.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radede says then Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for the Department of Agriculture Mosebenzi Zwane "came with his crew from the department of Agriculture" and asked for a delay in order to make a proposal on leasing land for agricultural purposes.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says Peter Thabethe delivered a presentation, and was among many people who accompanied Zwane to the meeting. "That's when Mr Zwane first spoke and told us they have earmarked Vrede maybe to establish a dairy farm," says Radebe.
[SUMMARISED] #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says they told them about the figures of money that would be injected into the project. He testifies that the company Estina was introduced and they were told there would be input from a company in India, named Paras.
#StateCaptureInquiry "That land was already rented by the local farmers," says Radebe of the land sought for the dairy project. "Did they explain who or how they identified this land?" asks Buthelezi. "Not at all," replies Radebe.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radebe describes what he deems the proper process of raising the matter of leasing the land, and says that they "just hijacked" the counsel meeting and the request is not documented in minutes.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radebe reports the existing lessees had two years remaining and it was suggested that government would buy them out in order to gain access to the land for the dairy project. He reports Thabethe did most of the talking.
#StateCaptureInquiry "They said the pilot project will be three years," says Radebe. He reports they said they had earmarked 100 people who would be Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) beneficiaries in the #VredeDairyFarm #EstinaDairyProject.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radebe reports he asked how the beneficiaries would be identified. "They must bring forward the criteria," he says. "They said I am against development," he later adds.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radebe isn't mincing his words. He speaks of what documents were tabled in terms of the "Estina dairy scam" in the following council meeting. Buthelezi refers to mention in Radebe's statement of the decline in dairy farming in the area, asks him to elaborate.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radebe cites the rising cost of cattle feed, and the logistics around selling litres of milk to processing plants, as factors in the decline in the number of dairy farmers in Vrede.
#StateCaptureInquiry Buthelezi asks Radebe whether, in light of the decline, the establishment of a processing plant in Vrede was going to benefit dairy farmers. Radebe replies if it had been done properly "I think it was going to be feasible" but then refers to absent documents.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radebe reports Phumelela Municipality Mayor Tlokotsi Motaung was like a brother to Zwane. "He has been a mayor for three consecutive terms," he says. Radebe claims Motaung insisted the lease be approved.
#StateCaptureInquiry "The land was not leased to Estina, as far as you know," says Buthelezi. Radebe's evidence is that the council resolution was an agreement to lease the land between the Phumelela Municipality and the office of the Premier.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radebe testifies that cattle were purchased for the dairy in late 2013. In February 2014, he says, he was alerted they were piling cattle up in a certain stream around Vrede which he then visited and now reports was supplying drinking water to the area.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says he alerted the press and, following media reports, alerted the Department of Environmental Affairs. "Then we met in Vrede, I took them to the scene. We got that the cattle were now covered with soil," says Radebe.
#StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says some of the caracasses had already decomoposed. "The carcasses which were dumped there, there were not less than 45," he says, reporting on a February visit to a stream in Vrede where he says dead cows had been dumped, perhaps three months prior.
#StateCaptureInquiry Buthelezi asks if the cattle were in different stages of decomposition and Radebe agrees. He adds that it did not end there. "Cattle keep on dying afterwards," he continues. After the press reports, he says, security was beefed up at the #VredeDairyFarm.
Radebe says he is of the view that the dairy cattle were not properly fed and this contributed to the deaths. Buthelezi mentions the threats and attacks Radebe experience following the reports he made. He says the reports on the carcasses caught the attention of @ParliamentofRSA.
@ParliamentofRSA Radebe reports he was personally attacked by people he claims were Zwane's "private force" and Zwane "had some dubious employment in office of the Department of Agriculture" around Vrede. He says that office hired five people without following proper procedures.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe claims, "People around Vrede then became so violent. They were angry at me as I was the one who reported the matter to the press, and I was even attacked personally by a group of people whom I by that time we believe it was Mr Zwane's private force."
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry "The two guys, they were security guards," says Radebe. He next names Thuto Kganye and Anton Kuliza Sibeko who he says worked in the department office. He reports they drove in a departmental car and appeared to him to be senior.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says, "People who attacked me is, they were driving with Frans Mokoena." He says Mokoena is a well-known "tenderpreneur" who Radebe reports "used to get tenders left and right in that area" of Phumelela.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry "So, he's a businessman?" asks Chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. "I presume so. He's a tenderpreneur," says Radebe.
@ParliamentofRSA [SUMMARISED] #StateCaptureInquiury Radebe: One of the biggest tenders that he got first was when Zwane was the MEC of COGTA. I think in 2009 he was the MEC of COGTA. Then Mokoena got a big tender to build RDP houses in Warden, while Zwane was the MEC.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCapetureInquiry "When I was attacked they were, he [Mokoena] was driving his car. In his car it was Bongani Radebe, Dingani Dinga and Anton Kuliza Sibeko. Then I was attacked, then I was even sprayed with a pepper spray on the eyes," says Radebe.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe continues, "They say I am disturbing the ANC from doing its work, and I was not the only person who was attacked around the area. Everybody who was associated with myself, they were attacked, throwing all sorts of insults on the street."
@ParliamentofRSA MT: #StateCaptrueInquiry "The life that we lived by that time, it was a frightening life," says Radebe. Zondo asks why they attacked Radebe. He says there were some differences after press reports on the cattle caracasses, and he had an argument with Kganye at a tennis court.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says they exchanged words. Zondo asks if it was connected with Radebe's stance on the Vrede Dairy Project or other differences. "Well, I can't recall correctly but we had a going on each other with Thuto Kganye on the tennis court."
@ParliamentofRSA Radebe says someone called those guys, said Radebe was there and they should come "fix him up" and he was en route the police station some 400 metres away. "When I was on my way to the police station, that is when I came across the car of Frans Mokoena with these guys," he says.
@ParliamentofRSA [EARLIER] "They stand in front of me like this on the car," said Radebe gesturing as shown below. "Then they open the doors, all of them. They came out and attacked me." He says Bongani Radebe took out a pepper spray and said "the ANC is bigger than me, I cannot touch the ANC".
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says Bongani Radebe sprayed him with pepper spray and "that thing is biting, I couldn't see" so he he asked a passer by to take him to the police station.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry Zondo asks, "But are you able to say that they attacked you because of the fact that you had reported [...] the fact that cows were dying on the [...] Vrede dairy farm to the media, or whether it was about other issues?"
@ParliamentofRSA "Chair, with that one I am dead sure I was attacked because of that dairy farm. I can put that on record," replies Radebe. He says this is based on what they said when they attacked me and three years later Bongani Radebe approached him to apologise saying he was used and duped.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCapetureInquiry "Chair, he was the one who used the pepper spray on me," says Radebe of Bongani Radebe who he says later apologised, saying he did not think clearly, and what councillor Radebe was doing was right.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry "He said I cannot stand on the way of the ANC the ANC is bigger than me," says Radebe of what he claims Sibeko said during the reported attack. Buthelezi asks Radebe if he reported the incident.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says he could not see clearly due to the pepper spray, and a police officer told him to wash his face, upon his arrival at the station. Then he went to the charge room, told them what happened and that he wanted to open a case.
@ParliamentofRSA "Then they say they want to consult with their station commander [...] Mr Xasa," says Radebe. "That's strange," remarks Zondo. "You come as a member of the public. You say to the police officer and the charge officer I want to open a case. They say they want to consult somebody."
@ParliamentofRSA [EARLIER AND SUMMARISED] #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says the station commander referred him to a different office in Bethlehem and said his case wasn't the first one, it was politically motivated and Vrede police station did not deal with those, it was a different department.
@ParliamentofRSA [EARLIER] "They said they will arrange somebody to Bethlehem to come and open a case for me [...] Chair, even today, it never happen," said Radebe. He confirms this happened at Vrede police station, at the time Xasa was acting station commander, who he thinks is now permanent.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry Zondo notes Ephraim Makhosini Dhlamini also testified on alerting the station commander in Vrede of threats and showed him a video. Dhlamini said the police didn't take his statement. "Okay. The legal team must please follow this up as well," says Zondo.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry Buthelezi invites Radebe to talk of further abuses. "In addition, I can even assist the Commission with other three guys who were attacked beside me who were turned away from the police station the same way I was turned," says Buthelezi. He gives three names.
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says the incidents all occured in 2014. He says of three other reported victims, "I even tried to speak to them when the Commission first approached me. They said, it just ended like that they [the police] never came back to them."
@ParliamentofRSA #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says the attacks on the three men he has named were strictly politically motivated, and the trio were close to Radebe. Zondo suggests the legal team make direct contact with the @SAPoliceService.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says, "Some of abuses are very much traumatised [traumatising] we cannot go back to them but I can bring one into the attention of the Commission. I was once shot by the police when I was getting into the farm. It was in 2014."
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe describes an incident at night which involved going into his house, providing a driver's license and police searching a car. Radebe says he opened a capse, which was investigated by @IPID_ZA. He says a cartridge was found on the scene.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA #StateCaptureInquiry "Once these gentlemen were employed in the office of the Department of Agriculture, that office was eventually turned turned to be a political party office of the ANC," says Radebe. He reports Zwane would go to the office and hold meetings in that office.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe clarifies "these gentlemen" refers to the men he has described as Zwane's alleged "private force" located in the office of the Department of Agriculture in Vrede.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA #StateCaptureInquiry "You can't get into that office if you are not pro-ANC," says Radebe. He takes a deep, audible gulp. He says his cattle fell ill and usually the services of the State veterinarian are free of charge. He obtained the number and gave details of the cattle.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA #StateCaptureInquiry "Unfortunately, by that time I have already lost 45 heads of cattle and most of them they were heavily pregnant," says Radebe. He says the State veterinarian diagnosed the condition and gave Radebe a prescription for his herd.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA Buthelezi says when the @StateCaptureCom consulted with Radebe in Vrede, a group of men walked past the consulting venue. "One of those people of that group which assaulted me, it was Frans Mokoena, then the other ones were his friends [...] Frans Mokoena was there," he says.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA @StateCaptureCom #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says there are three cases "with regard to this Vrede Dairy Project scam" and those cases "include death, murder" and the first occurred in 2013, it was that of Moses Chauke.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA @StateCaptureCom #StateCaptureInquiry "He was against this dairy thing," says Radebe of Chauke. "Up to so far I followed his story. The perpetrators even today they were not, are not arrested." Zondo asks, "Do you know whether they are known?" Radebe replies, "No, not yet."
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA @StateCaptureCom #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says he was personally involved in other cases. He says Vusi Mlaba was his friend, based in Warden, and was also an emerging farmer. Mlaba was not on good terms with Zwane, reports Radebe.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA @StateCaptureCom #StateCaptureInquiry Mlaba, says Radebe, should have been included in the Vrede Dairy Project but, he claims, because Mlaba was on the opposite side to Zwane, he was excluded. "The guy was killed, was mowed down with plenty bullets," says Radebe.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA @StateCaptureCom [EARLIER] #StateCaptureInquiry "I worked on his case, then his case - I can assure you - it was a pure cover up," says Radebe of Mlaba's murder. Radebe says Mlaba's case disappeared and the investigating officer "was ducking, ducking".
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA @StateCaptureCom Radebe also mentions the killing of Ngwenya. "If you go to Vrede, you look how small is Vrede and you look at the resources that the police have in order to investigate cases you become suspicion [suspicious] that there is something like a cover up," he says of Ngwenya's death.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA @StateCaptureCom [EARLIER] Radebe also speaks of the discovery of brand-new Range Rovers in late 2017 in Phumelela municipal store rooms. He says there was a document from the Department of Agriculture "which said those care were bought by the department".…
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA @StateCaptureCom #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says the community is at a loss over the Range Rovers and he does not know if the @StateCaptureCom can look into this, along with the harassment that whistleblowers experience. "Most of the time we live in fear," he says.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA @StateCaptureCom [EARLIER] #StateCaptureInquiry "The harassment that the whistleblowers get is not just a physical one. These things goes deep. Deep, deep, deep, deep" says Radebe. "And it put the lives of the people who speak out at risk."
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA @StateCaptureCom #StateCaptureInquiry Radebe says, "And it's not good to live in fear in a democratic country as if you are a lawlessness country." He asks the @StateCaptureCom to look into that, highlighting that it doesn't only affect the whistleblower by also those close to them.
@ParliamentofRSA @SAPoliceService @IPID_ZA @StateCaptureCom [EARLIER] #StateCaptureInquiry Zondo thanks and excuses Radebe. He adjourns for a tea break. A seventh witness, Dr Willie Basson, is to testify next on this workstream about the #VredeDairyFarm #EstinaDairyProject.
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