The Hawks are conducting search and seizure operations at the office of Free State Premier Ace Magashule and the provincial office of the agriculture department.
Two specialised units of the Hawks were on Friday searching for specific documents and electronic data linked to the Vrede dairy farm case, spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed to News24.
“If there is a need for us to confiscate or seize, then we have those members present as well, and they are also downloading everything,” Mulaudzi said.
“We are dealing with criminal cases, not civil cases.”
Read: Gupta arrest warrant imminent
The Hawks would be there all day on Friday, and would be going to the farm on Saturday to speak to the beneficiaries.
Magashule faced a barrage of questions from the media on Monday relating to his role as premier in the failed Free State project.
It was supposed to empower small black farmers in line with the ANC’s transformation policies.
The court order issued by the Free State High Court last Thursday puts Krynaauws Lust farm, near Vrede, in the Free State, under curatorship of the National Prosecuting Authority’s asset forfeiture unit.
Read: Inside the Gupta heist
The affidavit also revealed that Free State’s agricultural department – under then MEC Mosebenzi Zwane – paid R220 million to the Guptas 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.
Given 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.
Of the R220.2 million transferred to the project by the Free State government for the agricultural project, only 1% of it – R2.45 milliion – was spent on actual farming.
Most of the remaining money went to individuals and entities associated with the Guptas.
Read: The NPA goes after the Guptas, sets sights on assets worth about R1.6bn
The #GuptaLeaks revealed last year how at least R30 million paid to the Guptas via the farm ended up funding the family’s lavish Sun City wedding in 2013. – News24