Shaik is Bad Witness Who Must be Jailed, says State
With a little Latin, some dramatic flair and a no-holds barred attitude, the State asked the Durban High Court to convict Deputy President Jacob Zuma's financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, of corruption and fraud.
But first, as closing argument in Shaik's trial started yesterday, the State asked the court in nicely couched legalese to find that Shaik was a very, very bad witness.
As Billy Downer SC, the prosecution's leader, handed his pages of written argument to the court, he added a list of reasons why the court should not believe the Durban businessman's statements that he did nothing wrong.
Shaik is charged with corruption and fraud, but has pleaded not guilty.
Downer gave examples to prove his argument that Shaik's evidence was riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies:
Shaik contradicted his plea explanation to the court.
He contradicted himself.
He contradicted documentary evidence.
He contradicted instructions he had given to his counsel, Francois van Zyl SC.
He showed a lack of candour and was obstinate.
He contradicted defence witnesses.
He failed to make concessions.
And then Downer moved on to what lawyers call inconsistencies - a sin considered to be a little less bad than a contradiction.
Downer pointed out to the court that Shaik's evidence was inconsistent with documentary evidence and inconsistent with instructions to counsel.
Earlier in the day a projection of the words "Case Number CC27/04 S vs Shaik and others. State's argument on the merits", greeted Shaik as he entered the court.
Downer then formally handed his written argument and its 20 annexures to Mr Justice Hilary Squires.
"It was promised at the beginning of this trial, with apologies to (Latin poet) Virgil, that the prosecution would concern an epic of arms and a man..." he said.
"The epic has not been traversed as promised. Unfortunately the epic has proven to be anything but heroic.
"The facts in the present matter more aptly prompt the cry which (Roman philosopher) Cicero uttered: 'Oh the times, oh the morals'," Downer said.
He told the court it was their case, which was echoed by Shaik, that he had paid Zuma to stay in politics. The State just took it a step further, Downer explained.
It was the prosecution's case that Zuma helped Shaik to enhance his business.
"It is submitted that providing assistance to Shaik... Zuma, in contravention of his constitutional duties, at the very least exposed himself to a situation involving the risk of a conflict between his official responsibilities and private interests and thus acted in neglect of his duties," he said.
The trial continues.
With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis and the Cape Argus.