(Bloomberg) -- South African authorities arrested former Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane on fraud and corruption charges, the third high-profile politician to face prosecution for the plunder of state funds during former President Jacob Zuma’s rule.
Zwane appeared in the magistrate’s court in Bloemfontein, the capital of the central Free State province, the Investigating Directorate said in a statement. He was granted bail of 10,000 rand ($553) and is scheduled to appear in court again on Nov. 2.
Zwane’s arrest is among a string of high-profile cases linked to the so-called state capture era -- the nine years when Zuma led the country and corruption became endemic in South Africa. The government estimates more than 500 billion rand ($33 billion) was stolen from its coffers, but no officials have successfully been prosecuted so far.
Zwane has been linked to members of the Gupta family, who were friends with Zuma and the alleged masterminds of the looting spree. Zuma, the Guptas and Zwane have all denied wrongdoing.
Zwane currently serves as a lawmaker and the head of parliament’s transportation committee. He sits on the ruling African National Congress’s decision-making National Executive Committee.
His prosecution follows that of other political heavyweights Bongani Bongo, a former state security minister, and Ace Magashule, the ANC’s suspended secretary-general, who are also facing graft charges. Bongo’s trial has been set down for Nov. 8, while Magashule will reappear in court on Jan. 20.
The NPA have also bought former executives from state-owned companies -- including Siyabonga Gama, Anoj Singh and Brian Molefe -- before the courts for their alleged role in state capture. Former police boss Kgomotso Phahlane was arrested for fraud last week.
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The dairy scandal involved the leasing of a state-owned farm near the Free State town of Vrede to Estina Pty Ltd. under a free 99-year contract. The provincial government agreed to help develop it, ostensibly to set up a dairy project that would create 200 jobs. Prosecutors say most of the 220 million rand ($12 million) in public funds transferred to the company ended up in the hands of the Guptas, an allegation it denies.
Emails leaked to the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and Scorpio, the Daily Maverick news website’s investigative unit, showed money flowed from the provincial government to Estina, and from there to bank accounts in the United Arab Emirates and back again to the Gupta’s business accounts. Some of the funds were used to pay for a four-day family wedding at a luxury resort west of Johannesburg in 2013.
Read: Dairy Farm Blows Open South Africa’s Expanding Graft Probe
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