Newly elected ANC secretary-general and Free State premier Ace Magashule has brazenly retorted that it is no secret that his son, Tshepiso, works for the controversial Gupta family.
When questioned about his role in the Estina dairy project, as well as his family's association with the Guptas, during a press briefing at the ANC's headquarters on Monday, Magashule said: "No person is guilty until proven otherwise".
According to a report by City Press on Sunday, which quoted a preservation order granted to the National Prosecuting Authority's Asset Forfeiture Unit this week against Gupta-linked companies, of the R220.2-million that the Free State government transferred to the Estina dairy project in Vrede, only one percent was spent on actual farming.
Most of the remaining money went to individuals and entities associated with the Guptas. The contract in Estina's favour was drawn up by Magashule's legal adviser, who allegedly had ties to the Gupta family too.
But Magashule has been adamant that his son, although a director for a Gupta company, had no involvement in the Estina dairy project.
The allegations dogging Tshepiso make this hard to believe, however. Here's a reminder:
• amaBhungane published an exposé last year that showed Tshepiso started working for the Guptas as a consultant in November 2010.
• In 2014, Tshepiso allegedly emailed Tony Gupta to request R120 worth of airtime for 362 people, all of whom were said to be Free State ANC members.
• Months later, the Guptas' generosity had to be repaid. On the family's instruction, Tshepiso allegedly facilitated the creation of an invitation from his father's office to a list of Indian delegates the Guptas wanted to visit the province.
• The Gupta leaks, amaBhungane reported, also showed that Tshepiso allegedly received additional support from the Guptas, including a loan of R80,000. His brother, Thato Magashule, allegedly received benefits as well – that included a trip to Dubai in 2015.