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By Gareth Cotterell

Digital Editor

NPA’s ability to prosecute state capture cases in doubt, says DA

The DA's Glynnis Breytenbach said the state's 'dismal failure' is due to the hollowing out of the NPA.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says the state’s inability to successfully prosecute those responsible for state capture is becoming increasingly clear.

Accused acquitted in Nulane trial

This comes after the Bloemfontein High Court on Friday dismissed charges against the accused in the R24.9 million Nulane Investment fraud trial.

The Nulane Investment matter was the first state capture case to be put on trial.

Five of the six accused applied for discharge applications in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which states that an accused person may be acquitted of charges if the state fails to make its case.

The five accused in the trial who applied for discharge are former Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma, former head of the Free State Department of Rural Development Peter Thabethe, former provincial agriculture chief financial officer (CFO) Seipati Dhlamini, Sharma’s brother-in-law and a representative of Nulane, Dinesh Patel, and Gupta-owned Islandsite Investments director, Ronica Ragavan.

ALSO READ: Charges dropped against accused in Nulane R24.9m fraud trial

Hollowing out of the NPA

The DA’s Justice and Constitutional Development spokesperson, Glynnis Breytenbach, said the “dismal failure” is due to the hollowing out of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) during Jacob Zuma’s presidency.

“Results from Adv. [Shamila] Batohi’s assurances that the NPA is being recapacitated are unfortunately yet to be seen,” said Breytenbach.

The High Court said the state had failed to produce evidence that the Gupta family and its associates were involved in money laundering with the R24.9 million Nulane Investment project.

The state argued that the Free State Depratment of Agriculture paid R24.9 million to Nulane Investment to do a feasibility study for the Mohoma Mobung project – which was the start of the Vrede dairy project.

‘Comedy of errors’

Free State High Court acting Judge Nompumeleo Gusha said the state’s inability to collect evidence was “lamentable”.

She also said “the manner in which the investigation was conducted is a comedy of errors”.

“Despite endless assurances from the state that those accountable for state capture will be held accountable, recent developments have cast a long shadow of doubt on these promises,” said Breytenbach.

“The failure of the state to extradite the Gupta masterminds behind state capture, and the staggering failure of the Nulane case now unfortunately cast serious doubt on the capacity of the NPA to deliver on its promises,” she added.

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