Shaik Witness Attacked
Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Paddy Harper
Intruder ties up former Scorpion in ‘unrelated’ crime
A key state witness who led the corruption investigation that put Schabir Shaik on trial has been attacked and held prisoner in her home.
Advocate Gerda Ferreira, the former Scorpions investigator who headed the probe into allegations of corruption and bribery against Shaik until August last year, was held prisoner in her Pretoria flat between 2am and 6am on Wednesday.
The same day, Shaik pleaded not guilty in the Durban High Court before Judge Hillary Squires on two charges of corruption and one of fraud arising from payments of R1.2-million made to Deputy President Jacob Zuma.
Ferreira said yesterday that the attack had “nothing to do with the Shaik trial”.
She said: “My attack this week is not related to the trial happening in Durban or any of the cases I investigated. It was just an original crime.”
Ferreira, who left the Scorpions and joined Nedcor as head of forensic services, is number 15 on the state’s revised witness list.
She drafted a version of the Shaik charge sheet and interviewed a number of people involved in the case.
She was also the prosecutor in the trial of former ANC Chief Whip Tony Yengeni.
She did not know her attacker this week. “I went through a very traumatic experience. It is not nice to wake up and find someone on top of you and on your bed. I thought he was going to rape me thank God he did not,” said Ferreira.
“He was not armed but did take a knife from my kitchen. He initially tried to force me to transfer money to a certain account via the Internet but it did not work.”
He also demanded cash cheques.
“He tied me to a chair and later locked me in the bathroom. It was then that I managed to escape through the window and screamed for help like a crazy person,” she said.
She said the man was arrested within two hours of the attack.
Ferreira was assigned bodyguards last year while drafting charges against Shaik. She endured a “campaign of intimidation” at a crucial stage of the investigation by a man who repeatedly unlocked her office.
In an affidavit, Ferreira said her home patio door had also been “tampered with on numerous occasions” at that time. “The investigation in question was at a very sensitive stage,” the affidavit said.
This week’s attack on Ferreira came hours before Professor Themba Sono, the first witness in the Shaik trial, took the stand. Ferreira obtained the affidavit that he used in his testimony.
Sipho Ngwema, the Scorpions’ spokesman, said yesterday: ““It is an unfortunate incident that is not related to the trial.”
•A man related to a senior employee of the Namibian embassy appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Friday in connection with the attack. He was not asked to plead and is in custody.
With acknowledgements to Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Paddy Harper and the Sunday Times.