Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma's bail was denied at the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, 8 June. In her ruling, Magistrate Estelle de Lange gave concrete reasons why the former Transnet board member was not granted bail.
In its arguments, the National Prosecuting Authority gave the court enough reasons why Sharma should remain behind bars until his trial starts. Sharma had pleaded to be given bail and was even willing to fork out R100 000 bail.
Briefly News takes a look at three reasons that led to Sharma's bail being denied when he appeared in court on Tuesday. Check out the reasons below:
1. NPA provided the court with sufficient evidence
Magistrate Estelle de Lange ruled that the State provided sufficient reasons why Sharma should not be released on bail pending a trial. Sharma will remain behind bars until the case returns to court in July.
2. False passports
De Lange said that even though the troubled businessman, through his lawyers, told the court he was willing to hand over all his passports and travel documents, "false passports is a reality in South Africa".
3. R265 million in UAE
State Prosecutor Peter Serunye submitted that that Sharma failed to disclose R265 million he held in his United Arab Emirates' business account. The prosecutor said that if Sharma was released on bail, he had enough money and assets abroad that could "last him a lifetime", according to IOL.
Daily Maverick reports that Sharma, who was described as a "citizen of the world" and holder of a British passport and a UAE residence card, has travelled in and out of the country 128 times in just over 10 years. The case is expected back in court on July 5.
Public opinion on Sharma's detention
Social media users shared mixed reactions to the outcome of Sharma's bail hearing. Check out some of their comments below:
"Angelo Agrizzi lied about his properties in Italy but still got bail and even had a photoshoot in deathbed. Are all people equal before the law or is it by association?"
"But Bushiri was granted bail, knowing fully well his right to be in the country was being questioned."
"I'm waiting for a fool to say that there is nothing like state capture. Where did he make all that money? Hope he stays in jail for contributing to this thievery and thuggery."
"Job well-done NPA, hoping for more arrests and convictions on all corruption that is taking place. Corruption robs citizens' progress."
"He transferred R264 million out of the country. Money/Capital which South Africa will never see again. Don't you just love Radical Economic Transformation."
"Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for this wonderful news. Save SA. Save our beloved country. There are thieves that have stripped SA. All money must be recovered and returned. Should we not be investigating his Dolly wife?"
Right to a fair trial
In related news, Briefly News reported that Sharma had been pleading for bail since his arrest in Johannesburg on 2 June. The businessman told the court that his continued incarceration and the involvement of the controversial Gupta family in his criminal case would affect his right to a fair trial.
The Daily Maverick said the former Transnet board member is facing fraud and money laundering charges relating to a R24 million feasibility project in the Free State.
In an affidavit he submitted in court on Monday, 7 June, Sharma said it was likely that the Guptas who are mentioned in the draft charge sheet are scattered across the globe.
Sharma said he cannot be expected to remain behind bars while "these skirmishes are ongoing which do not ultimately concern me". He suggested that the Guptas were likely to challenge arrest warrants and oppose any attempt to extradite them from wherever they may be.
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