Publication: News24 Issued: Date: 2004-10-19 Reporter: Elmarie Jack Reporter: Sapa

Shaik at Ministers' Beck and Call




Date 2004-10-19


Elmarie Jack, Sapa

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Durban - Shabir Shaik's former PA, Bianca Singh, on Monday testified in the Durban High Court that he once told her to be at his "beck and call", adding that this was how his relationship with some ministers worked.

Singh was left off the State's official witness list to protect her identity until the last minute.

She delivered her testimony under the watchful eye of two Scorpions bodyguards.

Singh told the court that her relationship with Shaik and his Nkobi Holdings ended abruptly after a "personal incident" with him in his bungalow at the luxury Mauritian La Pirogue resort.

She delivered most of her evidence with her eyes fixed on the far wall of the courtroom, glancing occasionally at prosecutor Billy Downer or Judge Hilary Squires, but never looking at Shaik.

Singh said Shaik, commenting on his relationship with unnamed ministers "said he has to carry a jar of Vaseline because he gets fucked all the time, but that's okay because he gets what he wants and they get what they want." Throughout the day's testimony Shaik moved about in his seat, at times shaking his head in disagreement or using neon pink and green markers to highlight the notes he had made.

At times he held his Muslim prayer beads.

Week two of the fraud and corruption trial resumed with an account of his participation in a secret "damage control" meeting in Mauritius as investigations into the government's controversial arms deal intensified.

Singh said in November 2000 she had accompanied Shaik to the Indian Ocean island to take notes at a meeting with Alain Thetard, a director of Thint, a subsidiary of arms company Thomson CSF.

At the meeting with Thetard and another person whose name she could not remember they discussed the foreign exchange problems of Prodiba, the driver's licence card project in which Nkobi and the other company was involved.

"After that Mr Shaik said they needed to discuss damage control with regard to newspaper articles on the arms deal," she said.

Shaik reportedly said: "If the Heath investigating unit continues we are going to be under an amount of pressure and if a certain ANC [member] - I can't remember his name - were to open his mouth we would be in real trouble."

It was clear the other two people were uncomfortable with her presence, Singh said.

"Mr Shaik asked me to leave the room and I did so."

Later Singh, a married mother, went to Shaik's bungalow to hand over some documents and an "incident" took place. She gave no details.

Singh said she left the next day on the first available flight home. She never spoke to Shaik again and never returned to Nkobi Holdings.

Shaik's lawyer Anand Moodley phoned to tell her Shaik insisted on a confidentiality clause, because she knew too much about his relationship with Jacob Zuma, who was then KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic affairs and tourism.

With acknowledgements to Elmarie Jack, Sapa and News24.