Sharma also denied having any ties to the Gupta family, saying he last saw them in 2014.

Sharma claimed he last saw fellow partner and Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa in Dubai in December 2017. Sharma said he briefly 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. I have no association whatsoever with the Gupta family. The state has made bald allegations of my association with the Guptas. There is no merit to this,” he said.

Essa was a business partner of Sharma’s in a company called VR Laser, which received millions in suspicious contracts from state arms company Denel. Allegations about VR Laser have played out frequently at the state capture commission.

Sharma was arrested last week along with Dr Limakatso Moorosi, from the Department of Agriculture,  Seipati Dhlamini, who was the department’s financial officer, and former Free State department of agriculture head Peter Thabethe in connection with the failed R288m Estina dairy  project.

Moorosi, Dhlamini and Thabethe are out on bail of R10,000.

On Monday afternoon, Sharma’s bail proceedings were delayed after the state told the court that they could not proceed.

State prosecutor Peter Serunye said they were working on responding to Sharma’s affidavit after receiving it late on Sunday evening. Serunye said Sharma’s 90-page affidavit was “voluminous”.

Sharma said after his court appearance on June 3, he was transported back to the police holding cells at Baisvlei to consult with his attorney, but he was unable to have a “meaningful consultation” due to certain conditions at the station. Sharma said the consultation room did not have any chairs or desks; the room had open windows and on the other side was a “galvanised sheeting such that the wind was blowing into the room and it was extremely cold”.

He said they were also locked in the room and he did not have access to documents which might have been relevant to the case because his computer was in Sandton.

In his affidavit, Sharma said he was self-employed as a business consultant. He said he was married to Tarina by Islamic rites, in community of property. Tarina, he said, was a permanent SA resident, but he was born in the UK and had a UK passport as well as a South African ID and passport.

They had no children and both his parents were deceased. Both his siblings live in the US.

Sharma said he was not a flight risk and had built a life in SA and considered it to be his permanent home.

He said he intended to plead not guilty and could afford bail of R100,000.

The matter will resume on Tuesday.

TimesLIVE

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