On February 14 eight suspects shuffled into the dock at the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court. They stand accused of concocting an elaborate looting scheme to divert R220m in government grants from a farming project in the Free State to the Gupta family. There were one or two familiar faces among them. Nazeem Howa, the jowly, bespectacled former CEO of Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments, was there. Howa has regularly appeared on Gupta-funded TV channel ANN7 to defend the Guptas against accusations that they extorted inflated coal contracts and prepayments from Eskom, and to extol the virtues of Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s censorship policies at the SABC. Squeezed onto the same bench were Oakbay CEO Ronica Ragavan and Varun Gupta, nephew of the Gupta brothers and the former CEO of Oakbay Resources. They were interspersed with a few officials from the Free State agriculture department. Notable by his absence was their former political boss, Mosebenzi Zwane, the man who got the ball rolling in the f...

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