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Gupta ‘associate’ ready to surrender all for freedom

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Staff Reporter

Gupta ‘associate’ and businessman Iqbal Sharma, who has been in police custody since his arrest last Wednesday, is ready to surrender title to his properties, company shares, travel documents and submit to local travel restrictions as well as pay a bail for R100 000 to secure his freedom.

This is contained in an affidavit submitted by Sharma, 54, to the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court on Monday.

He said he owns a property in a complex on Rivonia Road, Sandton, worth R5-million from which he receives R12 000 in monthly rental.

“The entire complex is in the process of being disposed of to a developer who has made an offer. I undertake not to deal with these proceeds, in the event that the property is sold,” said Sharma.

The former Transnet board member said he jointly owned a flat with his wife Tarina Patel for his in-laws in Kenilworth, Western Cape.

The property is registered in Patel’s name but the two are married in community of property.

He said he holds 50 percent of the shares in Issar Global Limited, which owns his R20-million home in Morningside.

“As part of the bail conditions, I tender to pledge my shares to the state as security for my bail,” he offered.

The British-born Sharma denied that he is a flight risk as he has built a life in South Africa which he considers his permanent home.

The self-employed business consultant said he is a permanent resident of South Africa and holds an ID and passport, as well as a UK passport.

He is prepared to surrender all his travel documents if granted bail and abide by any other conditions including reporting to a police station every week and not travelling out of Gauteng.

“I do not intend to travel out of SA in the short term but in the event that I am required to travel on business, I will engage with the investigating officer and the National Prosecuting Authority with a view of affording me consent to travel abroad,” Sharma proposed.

“In any event, given the seriousness of the allegations which have been made against me, I am not likely to travel in the short term, as I wish to dispose of this matter expeditiously.”

He has two siblings who both live in the United States.

Sharma also stated he has two Nedbank accounts and, on June 3, the balances in the accounts stood at R170 000.

He has however paid his lawyers a deposit of R140 000, thereby significantly reducing the balance.

Sharma also indicated that he has a First Abu Dhabi Bank account with a balance of about US$10 000 (R135 000).

His monthly expenses amount to about R40 000.

Sharma’s wife is an actress and a model. She is self-sufficient and does not depend on his support.

Although widely regarded as a Gupta associate, Sharma claims in his court papers that the last time he made contact with the controversial family was in 2014.

He also says he last saw business partner and Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa in Dubai in December 2017.

Sharma says he bumped into Essa at the hotel where he and his wife Tarina Patel stayed.

“That meeting lasted about two minutes, when we greeted each other and exchanged brief pleasantries,” he stated in his affidavit.

“I have no association whatsoever with the Gupta family. The state has made bold allegations of my association with the Guptas. There is no merit to this.”

His bail application was postponed to Tuesday after the state indicated that it received the full affidavit late and needed time to verify its contents before arguing in court.

State prosecutor Peter Serunye also said the affidavit was voluminous as it contained about 90 pages.

Sharma was arrested together with former Free State department of agriculture head Mbana Peter as well as Limakatso Moorosi, also a former head of the same department, and Seipati Dhlamini, the department’s former chief financial officer.

All his co-accused have been released on R10 000 bail each.

The accused face criminal charges in connection with a R25-million feasibility study dating back to 2011 that was irregularly granted to Nulane Investments 204 (Pty) Ltd, a company owned and controlled by Sharma.

The company had to provide a report to the department within seven months.

Nulane, however, subcontracted the work to Deloitte Consulting (Pty) Ltd for R1.5-million.

Furthermore, it subcontracted the work already completed by Deloitte to the UAE-based Gateway Limited and paid them over R19-million.

From there, the funds were allegedly diverted to Islandsite Investments 180 (Pty) Ltd, a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family.

There are 15 accused in the matter, including two Gupta brothers and their wives.

At least eight of the accused are currently out of the country and are being pursued by South African authorities with the help of Interpol.

 

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Municipal manager facing tender fraud charges granted bail

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THE ACCUSED . . . Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha is out on bail

Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha, 49, was on Friday released on a bail of R500 000 by the Phuthaditjhaba Magistrates Court after he was arrested by The Hawks for fraud, corruption and Contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The state alleges that he allegedly awarded a contract of R58 million to Kill Crime Security Company in 2020 without following proper procurement processes.

National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said Mothamaha allegedly signed a service level agreement on May 19, 2020, appointing the company to render security services to the municipality for a period of three months without following procurement processes.

“The municipality continued to pay Kill Crime Security Company for almost two years without a contract,” said Shuping.

He said Mothamaha was supposed to appear with his co-accused, father and daughter who are the owners of Kill Crime Security, Thabiso, 55, and Dimakatso Sekhosana, 29, on Monday after they were instructed by The Hawks to hand themselves over on Sunday, but he failed to do so.

The Sekhosanas appeared on Monday facing similar charges and were released on bail of R150 000 each.

Part of Mothamaha’s bail conditions are that he must not enter the offices of the municipality, not interfere with the investigations nor intimidate witnesses.

The case was postponed to September 30 for further investigations. – Staff Reporter

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Six nabbed for alleged theft of network batteries

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NABBED . . .  The six men believed to have stolen network batteries and damaged critical infrastructure

 Six men were due to appear in the Marquard Magistrates Court on Friday after being found in possession of eight network batteries believed to have been stolen.

Police spokesperson for the eastern Free State, Warrant Officer Mmako Mophiring, said the suspects were arrested following a joint effort by members of the SA Police Service, private security and farmers.

He said police received information from the community at about 3am last Wednesday saying some unknown men were digging up network boxes and cutting copper inside a manhole.

“The police activated and mobilised other members and arrested the first suspect who is a foreign national near a filling station while sitting inside a vehicle,” said Mophiring.

The man was arrested for possession of suspected stolen property after eight network power box batteries were found in his possession and failed to properly account for them.

While pursuing the matter with the help of some farmers, the police received information at about 8am that some five men were trying to hitch-hike near a certain farm to Senekal.

“The team quickly responded and arrested the three suspects who were successfully linked to the initially arrested suspect. Two other suspects managed to escape but were chased and arrested near a farm going to Senekal. Four of the six suspects are Illegal immigrants and two are South Africans,” he explained.

The six are aged between 23 and 30 years of age.

They are facing charges of contravening the Immigration Act, possession of suspected stolen property and damage of infrastructure.

Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane applauded the community and the team for the prompt arrests and urged them to “continue working together to fight crime”.

Meanwhile, three suspected armed robbers were sniffed out of their hideout in Thaba Nchu near Serwalo on Thursday morning following a petrol station robbery.

Police spokesperson in Mangaung, Sergeant Mahlomola Kareli, said in a separate statement four armed robbers arrived at the petrol garage just after midnight on Wednesday and threatened the security guard with a firearm before tying him up with wire and fleeing the scene with a undisclosed amount of cash and cans of motor vehicle oil.

The suspects demanded keys from the guard and gained access to the back offices.

And while others were busy helping themselves to the oil cans and cigarettes, others were busy grinding the safe to access the money inside.

The four then left the security guard with his hands and feet tightly fastened with a wire.

The guard was only rescued by staff starting duty at 5am.

The matter was reported to the police and a case of armed robbery was opened at Thaba Nchu Police Station and a manhunt was launched.

Luck ran out for three of the suspects aged between 38 and 40 after they were traced and found near Serwalo in Thaba Nchu at about 2am on Thursday and were arrested.

They were found with an undisclosed amount of money suspected to have been stolen during the robbery.

One suspect remains at large.

The three were due to appear in the Thaba Nchu Magistrates Court on Friday for business robbery. – Staff Reporter

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Garden scissor attacker nabbed

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THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

A 64-year-old man has been arrested after stabbing one person in the stomach with a broken garden scissor and injuring the victim’s family while holding them hostage.

Police say they were called to a place in Verkeerdevlei on Wednesday evening where a person had been stabbed in the stomach.

Upon arrival, they found a 53-year-old man who had been stabbed in the stomach with the broken scissor.

The suspect had already fled the scene.

“The victim was taken to hospital for medical treatment,” said Captain Stephen Thakeng in a brief statement.

Further investigations revealed that the same suspect went to the house of the victim’s 36-year-old daughter house where he held her and her two children – aged 13 and 15 – hostage.

“Tactical Response Team (TRT) members from Park Road were activated at about 21:30 and it was realised that the suspect was holding (the family) hostage in a three-roomed shack,” said Thakeng.

“The TRT members gained entry into the shack and rescued the three from the suspect.

“The three victims were also stabbed with the same half part of the big scissor.”

The suspect is facing a charge of attempted murder and three counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He will appear in the Verkeerdevlei Magistrates Court soon.

THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

Meanwhile, a man believed to be terrorising tuckshop owners around Bothaville was arrested on Wednesday following a tip-off by community members.

Police say they received information about a man with a firearm and who might be involved in robberies of tuck shops of foreign nationals at about 16:30.

The suspect’s house in Kgotsong was identified and members of Bothaville Crime Prevention approached it and asked for permission to search the place.

They were granted permission and a 9mm pistol was found and a 27-year-old man from Potchefstroom was arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The suspect will appear in the Bothaville Magistrates Court soon. – Staff Reporter

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