Two armed security guards man a 3m-high steel gate at the entrance to a dairy farm in the Free State, which is at the heart of a graft scandal embroiling some of President Jacob Zuma’s closest allies. The state-owned farm near Vrede was leased to little-known company Estina under a free 99-year contract in 2012, and the regional government agreed to help develop it, ostensibly to create 200 jobs. Now prosecutors say most of the R220m in public funds transferred to the company ended up in the hands of the Gupta brothers, who are in business with one of Zuma’s sons. "Hearing about the corruption has been extremely disappointing," said Jabulile Mthombeni, a mother of two who lives in a township on the outskirts of Vrede. "This project was something that I and some of the people in the surrounding communities saw as the hope we need to have jobs and benefits, to help us survive and maybe even overcome the poverty we live in. We are still not benefiting." Asset freeze On January 19, the ...

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