Publication: Business Day Date: 2005-03-04 Reporter: Nicola Jenvey Reporter:

Bombshell 'Zuma' Letter Rocks Shaik Corruption Trial



Business Day




Nicola Jenvey

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The state has applied to reopen its case in the Schabir Shaik trial, saying a new document has come to light

The state yesterday applied to reopen its case in the Schabir Shaik fraud and corruption trial, saying a new document, originally seized with others from Nkobi Holdings’ offices by the Scorpions, had come to light.

Prosecutor Billy Downer told the court the “unsigned” document had only come to the state’s attention on Wednesday this week.

The contents of the unsigned document were not revealed in court, as it still has to be presented as evidence. On the face of it, it appears to be a draft of a letter from Deputy President Jacob Zuma to Renong chairman Tan Sri Halim Saad regarding the redevelopment of the Durban Point waterfront.

Downer said the letter “strongly resembled” another one Shaik had written and which had already been submitted as uncontested evidence.

Shaik denied knowledge of the new letter.

The defence contested the reopening of the state’s case, saying the state had had ample time during its investigations and the presentation of its case to locate and present the document.

Judge Hillary Squires is expected to make a ruling on the state’s request this morning.

Downer questioned Shaik’s response about the letter, saying that the state could prove that he (Shaik) had in fact composed the draft letter.

Defence counsel Francois van Zyl said Downer would also have an opportunity to raise the issue during the closing of arguments.

In response, Downer said not allowing the evidence at this stage in the trial allowed Shaik to avoid cross-examination and prevented him from offering an explanation.

Earlier in the day Shaik admitted to being “under a lot of stress” resulting in his words “spinning out of context”.

Shaik was yesterday facing his fourth day of cross-examination relating to two charges of corruption and one of fraud.

“I am trying to be accurate and I ask for your forgiveness,” Shaik said.

His comments followed incessant questioning from Downer on why he “was equivocating *1” about his version of the events surrounding an auditors’ meeting to discuss the irregular write-off of R1,2m from the Nkobi books.

Shaik has repeatedly told the court he employed professionals and “just signed” the financial statements they compiled.

He has also squarely laid the blame for the write-off on David Strachan & Taylor tax partner Paul Geiring and Nkobi financial director Colin Isaacs.

Under cross-examination he has claimed ignorance about the details of the meeting, but his evidence in chief last week reflected he was updated by Geiring and Isaacs.

The meeting allegedly followed the resignation of Nkobi accountant Celia Bester.

In her resignation letter, Bester outlined her objection to transacting the “irregular” payments to Zuma through the company books.

With acknowledgements to Nicola Jenvey and Business Day.

*1 anudda of da grate fallacies in the arsenal of the fibba.