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Iqbal Sharma out on R500,000 bail, ordered to stay away from any borders

14 July 2021 - 15:26 By naledi shange
Iqbal Sharma was initially denied bail by the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court on June 8. File photo.
Iqbal Sharma was initially denied bail by the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court on June 8. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi / Sunday Times

Businessman Iqbal Sharma, who has ties to the Gupta family, was on Wednesday granted bail of R500,000, along with a list of stringent bail conditions. 

Sharma had headed to the Bloemfontein high court to appeal for bail after he was initially denied release by the magistrate's court last month. It had deemed him a flight risk, saying no amount of bail money could keep him from skipping the country. 

Sharma is accused of having played a crucial role in the corruption which unfolded in the multimillion-rand Estina dairy project.

He had been arrested with Peter Thabethe and Dr Limakatso Moorosi, who are former heads of the department of agriculture, and Seipati Dhlamini, who was the department’s CFO. Moorosi, Dhlamini and Thabethe are out on bail of R10,000.

But last week, his lawyer Mannie Witz presented a compelling argument before the high court, saying labelling him a flight risk was not justified. Witz further offered the state to give Sharma the tightest, most stringent bail conditions it saw fit, as long as it came with his freedom. 

On Wednesday, judge Joseph Mhlambi ruled that Sharma should also sign over his retirement annuity to the state as leverage. The RA is said to be worth R600,000.

He was also ordered to declare all of his and his wife's local and foreign assets to the state. He was not permitted to dispose of any of these without alerting the National Prosecuting Authority.

Furthermore, Sharma was ordered to attend all his court cases, which would be heard in the Bloemfontein high court starting from September 26.

His bail conditions also included him continuing with his residence in his Sandton home, from where he is to report to the Sandton police station on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He was to hand over his passports and was not permitted to leave Gauteng without the permission of the investigating officer. 

The businessman, who had told the court he often travelled abroad for both business and pleasure, was told to stay away from the country's borders. The court ordered that he should not be found 500m from any port. 

Finally, he was ordered to not make contact with any of the witnesses linked to the case.