Publication: Business Day Date: 2005-03-01 Reporter: Tim Cohen Reporter:

Shaik Lied about His Qualifications, Bluffed Mandela



Business Day




Tim Cohen

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Schabir Shaik has conceded that he had faked his academic qualifications, putting a cloud on his credibility as a witness.

Schabir Shaik yesterday conceded that he had faked his academic qualifications and falsely claimed he was a member of a professional organisation in an attempt to match his learned siblings.

He conceded under intense cross examination by prosecutor Billy Downer yesterday that he did not have the Masters in Business Administration and two degrees he claimed to have received from the UK and the US, as indicated on the Nkobi Holdings brochure. He also admitted he was not a member of an engineering board.

The concession, drawn on his first day of cross examination, put a cloud on Shaik’s credibility as a witness. “I don’t possess any of those qualifications,” he said.

When asked why he had falsified his credentials, he said because of the circumstances in which he grew up ­ his brothers were highly qualified and felt he had missed out. He also wanted to impress clients.

In another concession, Shaik told the Durban High Court that he and Deputy President Jacob Zuma had bluffed former president Nelson Mandela to ensure that he did not withhold financial assistance to Zuma. He conceded he had disguised his financial support of Zuma from Mandela.

“I did not want Mr Mandela to know that Mr Zuma owed Mr Shaik money,” said Shaik, who has been charged with two counts of corruption and one of fraud.

Downer asked Shaik about a document prepared for Ismail Ayob, Mandela’s lawyer, which outlined Zuma’s debts.

The document was prepared for Mandela by Shaik and included an amount of about R200 000 owed to the Pitso Trust. The beneficiaries of the trust were Shaik and his family.

“Did you want to conceal from Mr Mandela that Zuma was receiving money from you?” said Downer.

“Yes,” Shaik answered, explaining that he was worried that Mandela would not want to assist Zuma if he knew that Shaik was involved. “I did not want to put his potential funding at risk.”

A total of R2m had been placed in Zuma’s Absa account, and R1m was immediately moved to a development trust.

Shaik had previously acknowledged that he removed R900 000 of the remaining money from the account, and transferred it to the accounts of his own companies.

Downer asked Shaik why he had not discussed the situation with the deputy president before withdrawing the funds.

Shaik replied that “such was the nature of our relationship, I had the authority to take from his account … such was the level of trust, I did not need to ask.”

Shaik said Zuma was also not available at the time, but that they had discussed the situation three months later in December.

With acknowledgements to Tim Cohen and Business Day.