Zuma 'Bribe Evidence' Submitted
Durban – A hand-written note, in which a French arms company representative records an agreement on an alleged R500 000 a year bribe to Deputy President Jacob Zuma, was presented as evidence to the Durban High Court on Tuesday.
The note was presented by the State during testimony by Susan Delique, a former secretary at the company Thompson CSF, and the State's third witness in the corruption trial of Shabir Shaik.
However, Shaik's legal team has contested the admissibility of the document and will argue the issue at the end of the State's case.
Delique told the court that Thompson CSF's South African head of operations, Alain Thetard, gave her the note when he returned from a meeting with Shaik and Zuma in Durban in March 2000.
She said she typed out the note, which was in French, and sent it as an encrypted fax to TCSF head office in Paris.
From Thetard, the typed version of the note is addressed to TCSF sales director for Africa Jann de Jomaron, and headed "Subject: JZ/S Shaik".
It reads: "Dear Jann: following on our interview held on 30/9/1999 with S Shaik in Durban and my conversation held on 10/11/1999 with Mr JP Perrier in Paris I have been able (at last) to meet JZ in Durban on the 11 of this month, during a private interview in the presence of SS. I had asked for SS to obtain from JZ a clear confirmation or, at least, an encoded declaration (in a code defined by me) in order to validate the request by SS at the end of September 1999. This was done by JZ (in an encoded form). May I remind you of the two main objectives of the ‘effort' requested of Thompson CSF are:
Thompson CSF's protection during the current investigations (SITRON)
JZ's permanent support for the future projects.
Amount: 500K ZAR per annum (until the first payment of the dividends by ADS)."
The State hopes to prove Zuma was to get the money in return for protecting Thompson CSF and Shaik's company Nkobi Holdings against probes into irregularities in the multi-billion rand arms deal.
It also hopes to prove Zuma helped the two companies secure a multi-million rand slice of the arms deal in the form of a tender for the combat suite in the navy's four new corvettes.
Thompson CSF won the tender, and then shared it with Nkobi via a joint venture: African Defence Systems – the ADS in the encrypted fax.
The court earlier heard evidence from Shaik's former personal assistant that Shaik had expressed alarm at the prospect of the Heath special investigative unit probing the arms deal.
As he handed up the hand-written letter, prosecutor Billy Downer told Judge Hilary Squires that Shaik's advocate Francois van Zyl had warned he would object to the admissibility of the document.
Downer said the State would argue that it was admissible on a number of grounds, including the fact that it was statement made in the execution of a plan and in furtherance of a conspiracy, and on the grounds that it should be seen as an exception to the rule against hearsay evidence.
He and van Zyl proposed the document be admitted provisionally so that the matter could be argued at the end of the State's case, Downer said.
Squires said that in general a document had to be "proved" by its author before it could be admitted as evidence, but agreed to admit it provisionally.
Thetard is on the State's witness list, but is highly unlikely to testify.
He did give an interview to the Scorpions at an early stage of the investigation, but is now in France, and appears unlikely to return for the Durban case.
A member of the prosecution team said that they could not subpoena Thetard in France, and France did not extradite its own citizens.
With acknowledgements to Sapa and The Citizen.