The Bloemfontein Regional Court on Monday postponed the corruption case against Gupta-linked businessman Iqbal Sharma and his co-accused to 28 September for additional accused to be added to the case.
Sharma and his co-accused face charges of contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, fraud and money laundering.
The accused in the case included Sharma’s brother-in-law Dinesh Patel, the former head of the Free State Department of Rural Development (FSDoRD) Peter Thabethe, former head of Free State Department of Rural Development (FSDoA) Limakatso Moorosi, and former FSDoA chief financial officer, Seipati Dhlamini.
Their charges are in connection with procurement fraud involving R24.9 million paid to Sharma’s company, Nulane Investment, by the FSDoA between November 2011 and April 2012.
“The R24.9 million was purportedly paid to Nulane to conduct a feasibility study for the Free State province’s flagship Mohoma Mobung project, on the basis that Nulane had unique skills to perform the work,” the NPA’s Investigating Directorate (ID) spokesperson, Sindisiwe Seboka, said in a statement.
According to Seboka, during Monday’s court appearance the state was not able to secure the attendance of some of the accused at court. The rest of the accused were set to reappear on 8 October.
Seboka said extradition processes to bring members of the Gupta family before a South African court to face these charges in relation to the case were underway.
“To avoid unnecessary delays in the finalisation of the criminal trial against the accused already before the court, the state will bring the remainder of the accused persons before a court in a separate trial, once their attendance in a South Africa court has been secured,” she said.
Sharma is currently out on bail of R500,000 while his four co-accused were released on R10,000 bail each.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe