Chilling plot revealed after Estina dairy farm beneficiary is killed
Times Select is in possession of a clip in which two men discuss killing another farmer critical of the Gupta-linked project
A chilling audio clip, in which two men discuss putting a man’s head under a train for money, has farmers in the Free State town of Vrede spooked.
But police say they are not actively investigating a link between the murder last week of an outspoken Vrede farmer and the audio recording, in which the men discuss a hit on the chairman of the local farming association.
The body of Philemon Ngwenya, 53, was found at his home on Friday. He had been beaten to death with a blunt object. Ngwenya was one of the locals who was supposed to benefit from the Estina Dairy Project. Instead, the project was used to funnel millions in government funds into Gupta bank accounts.
Listen to the clip here:
About R200m was invested by the Free State government into the dairy farm. It is alleged that about R30m of this was used to fund the lavish wedding of a Gupta family member at Sun City in 2013.
Ngwenya was a member of the African Farmers' Association of South Africa and a close friend of the association’s Vrede chairman, Ephraim Dlamini.
The audio clip is a discussion about the assassination of Dlamini. In it, the two people seem to be travelling in a vehicle.
Man A: “I hear that there are people who want to end Dlamini’s life by putting his head on a railway line …
Man B: “Why are you people doing like this?”
Man A: “We need money ... if I can be given money, I will put his head down.”
Man B: “We will talk, don’t worry, I will organise you others.”
Dlamini told Times Select this was a clear threat to his life and he hoped police would do something about it.
He said he had handed the clip over to police earlier this year, shortly after becoming aware of it.
“It was sent to the police and I believe the people who were talking [on the clip] are known,” said Dlamini.
He said he was not afraid of death. “If your time has come, you will die. It is the same with what happened to Ngwenya. But his death needs to be investigated and those who recorded this clip need to be found and face the law,” he said.
He would not link the recorded conversation to Ngwenya’s death. “We can’t say that until the police have done their work,” he said.
Dlamini said that when the dairy project was first unveiled, then Free State agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane told them local beneficiaries would become 51% owners.
However, he said he suspected something was amiss and warned people not to “just sign any documentation”.
Roy Jankielsohn, DA leader in the Free State legislature, said they called on police to investigate the real motive behind his killing.
“Should the motive be linked to the project it will not be the first time a person has lost his life while trying to expose the rot in this project. Moses Tshake, an auditor in the Free State department of agriculture, was kidnapped, tortured and killed after allegedly questioning payments linked to the controversial Vrede Dairy Farm Project in 2013,” said Jankielsohn.
Free State police spokesman, Brigadier Sam Makhele, said it was misleading for people to prematurely link his murder to the recording.
“It is not that we ignore such information, but at times it can be misleading. Anything tangible that can assist in the investigation, we always emphasise that.”
Makhele said they were aware of the DA statement, but would not be influenced by “comments from the outside”.
“We take notice of what people say, but we need to focus on the investigation at hand,” he said.
Ngwenya’s daughter, Loliwe Ngwenya, said because he loved farming so much he had left the family’s home to live in a shack so he could look after his cows. His body was found in the shack.
She said she loved her father. “He was a sweet person, who we loved. We will miss him dearly.”
Ngwenya will be buried on Saturday in Vrede.