Gupta associate Kuben Moodley petitioned the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court sitting in Palm Ridge to relax his bail conditions, to allow him to attend an unspecified Hindu festival in India next week.
Moodley, who has been charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering, stemming from the R398.4-million Transnet fraud and corruption case, told the magistrate, Philip Venter, that he needed to attend the festival with his family.
Moodley is married to former Eskom board member Veroshini Naidoo, who was appointed to the board by disgraced former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown.
Moodley told the court he needed to attend the religious event with his children while they were still young.
But Venter questioned the timing of the trip, saying it looked like a convenient time for a family vacation.
Responding through his lawyer, Moodley told the court that his request to travel to India was not for holiday purposes.
He said it was for a religious practice.
His lawyer told the court, "It's a practice for his Hindu religion, and it doesn't happen every year, and he wanted to use this opportunity."
However, Venter was still unconvinced by this explanation and asked whether Moodley could not wait until his trial ended.
His lawyer said that would not be possible, and that his trip was "time specific".
"His children will be majors soon, and this must be done before then. We are not sure when the case will be finalised. Cases of this nature might take a considerable amount of time, and he doesn't want to do it during the trial; that is why he wants to do it now before the trial commences," the lawyer said.
Because the prosecution did not oppose Moodley's application for the relaxation of bail conditions, Venter allowed him to travel to India.
However, he emphasised that Moodley was allowed to travel only to India - and, upon his return, he should hand his passport back to the investigating officer within 48 hours.
Moodley will be out of the country from 11 to 28 December and must return his passport to the investigating officer by the close of business on 30 December.
The prosecutor, Peter Masiakwala, told the court that it should also order Moodley to provide the State with his travel itinerary, including his return air ticket.
The relaxation of bail conditions took place shortly after the main case against Moodley and 17 others, including several companies, was postponed to February next year.
Moodley, his company, Albatime, and his co-accused - former Transnet bosses Brian Molefe and Siyabonga Gama, Transnet's former CFO Anoj Singh and former acting CFO Garry Pita, Regiments Capital directors Niven Pillay and Litha Nyhonhya, former group treasurer Phetolo Ramosebudi, Regiments shareholder and Trillian boss Eric Wood, and Trillian Asset Management current director Daniel Roy - face multiple charges of fraud, corruption, contravention of the Public Finance Management Act and money laundering over contracts awarded by Transnet to Regiments Capital and Trillian Capital Partners.
The charges relate to Transnet's consultancy agreement for the procurement of 1 064 locomotives for the state-owned enterprise.
The former head of the National Prosecuting Authority, Shaun Abrahams, came on record as counsel for Molefe.
Abrahams represented one accused in the R2.2-billion Eskom Kusile corruption case in Middelburg, which has now been struck from the court roll.
Legal heavyweights representing other accused include advocates Barry Roux SC and Annelene van den Heever.
The State also brought in advocate Bheki Manyathi as a lead prosecutor.
Manyathi was the evidence leader in the Moerane Commission, which investigated political killings in KwaZulu-Natal.
Moodley was arrested in September 2021 at OR Tambo International Airport as he was about to catch a flight to Dubai.
During his bail application at the time, he told the court he was headed to a golf vacation in Dubai when the police apprehended him - and said his return flight ticket proved he had no intentions of skipping the country.