Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2004-10-19 Reporter: Sapa

Shaik Assistant 'Saw Corvette Diagrams'



Mail and Guardian

Date 2004-10-19



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Schabir Shaik's former personal assistant Bianca Singh went into the witness box for the second day at his corruption trial in the Durban High Court on Tuesday.

On Monday, Singh told the court she had seen a laminated diagram of the arms-deal corvettes in a cupboard in Shaik's office soon after she started work there in 1996.

On Tuesday, Shaik's advocate, Francois van Zyl, showed her two laminated diagrams of a vessel and asked if those were the ones she saw.

Singh replied that she had seen only one diagram, that it was "a bit bigger" and that the profile of the vessel on it had been different.

Van Zyl put it to her that the plans she was holding were the only ship diagrams Shaik had had in his office.

However, Singh maintained that those were not the ones she had seen.

Van Zyl handed the diagrams in as exhibits and said he would lead evidence on them later.

Shaik faces three charges of fraud and corruption relating to alleged payments to Deputy President Jacob Zuma for protection during a probe into contracts awarded as part of a multibillion-rand arms deal.

Shaik has pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, the media were called to order for "sensationalist" reporting as the Shaik trial entered its second week.

At the start of proceedings, prosecutor Billy Downer told Judge Hillary Squires that the weekend's Sunday Tribune had carried verbatim detail from a report on Shaik's company books that the prosecution commissioned from auditors KPMG.

This report was confidential and had not yet been introduced as evidence, he said.

"I would submit it is not in the interests of justice that such detail be leaked to the press or published," he said.

"It tends to contravene the sub judice rule and prejudice both the state and defence."

Squires said he had not read the piece, but that if what Downer said was correct, "then yes, what you say should not be done".

Editors should refrain from discussing evidence that could still be confidential and subject to "clarification and adjustment".

"I hope that the apprehensions expressed by the prosecutor will be taken to heart," he said.

With acknowledgements to Sapa and the Mail & Guardian.