Yunis Shaik to Pay Young R150 000 for Defamation
Johannesburg - One of the losing arms deal bidders has won R150 000 in damages after being defamed in a television programme by a member of the Shaik family.
Richard Young is also legally challenging the awarding of a R30-million contract for the combat suites for the navy's corvettes to African Defence Systems (ADS) instead of to his company, CCII Systems, and is suing the government for damages.
Young claimed damages from Yunis Shaik, who was interviewed on e.tv during November 2001.
At the time of the interview, Chippy Shaik, former head of the department of defence's arms acquisition programme, was under suspension from his post and Schabir Shaik, shareholder in ADS, was ill.
Yunis Shaik, an attorney, stood in for his brothers.
The interview was about the arms deal and, more specifically, about the alleged role played by Chippy Shaik in the decision for the contract to be awarded to ADS - a company in which Schabir Shaik, the judgment noted, held a "not insignificant minority shareholding".
During the interview Shaik denied there had been any wrongdoing by Chippy and accused Young of lying. He said Young had tendered an untested product he had refused to guarantee and had initiated a programme of sleaze and slander.
Yunis Shaik did not deny that he had said this.
In his judgment, Justice Hennie Nel said: "Eventually and contrary to the initial specifications and wishes of the navy, including the specified use of fibre optic cabling and a price in excess of that of the indigenous system, the French-owned system (French arms manufacturer Thomson CSF-Thales owned the majority of shares in ADS) was purchased by the weapons acquisition committee."
Young's system was, however, recognised by other countries and was used in the latest United States aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, and the US navy's San Antonio class of Marine Corps assault vessels.
Shaik said in evidence that he was surprised to see, on viewing a tape of the interview, that he had been so intemperate. He also admitted exceeding the bounds of fair comment and giving offence to Young.
Shaik's legal team argued, however, that Young should have asked for an apology and quoted a court case to support this view.
Judge Nel was not impressed: "Even if this little treasure can be recovered from a nook in our legal attic, I do not believe a published apology ... would serve the interest of justice.
"Freedom of expression does not include the right to falsely attack the integrity of a fellow citizen for selfish reasons or for reasons which have nothing to do with public benefit ... Shaik showed no compunction when attacking the integrity of Young and was indifferent to any financial harm his baseless accusations could have caused."
Judge Nel ordered Shaik to pay Young R150 000 in damages as well as Young's legal costs.
With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis and the Cape Times.