Publication: The Star Issued: Date: 2005-03-02 Reporter: Estelle Ellis

Shaik Set to Call MEC as Witness



The Star

Date 2005-03-02


Estelle Ellis

Web Link


Schabir Shaik has indicated during cross-examination that KwaZulu-Natal MEC Zweli Mkhize might be called as a witness in his defence.

Shaik was explaining to the Durban High Court court that the State's forensic auditor had not picked up all the repayments he had made to Development Africa.

Earlier the court heard Shaik had inadvertently transferred R900 000 of a R1 million donation to Development Africa by Nelson Mandela to an account of one of his companies.

The money was paid into Deputy President Jacob Zuma's account and used by Shaik without, at first, asking Zuma about it.

Shaik later undertook to pay back the money, for the upgrade of a Zulu royal residence.

The State, however, links Shaik's need to pay this money back to the charge that he was involved in soliciting a bribe for Zuma.

When he was challenged about his repayments, he said that he had paid everything back.

"I gave the cheques to Mkhize and he will come and give evidence to that effect," Shaik said.

After Monday's dramatic start to cross-questioning, Court A was a relatively peaceful place yesterday.

Apart from raising his voice once, prosecutor Billy Downer SC asked his questions calmly and patiently.

Shaik looked relatively relaxed, gesticulated with his glasses and answered in similarly calm and patient tones.

Smiles were exchanged often.

"I am not in trouble. That is your view," a smiling Shaik said sweetly to Downer at one stage.

He was, however, forced to admit at one stage that he had exaggerated the length of his friendship with Zuma in a letter to a business associate after Downer produced the letter.

Downer: Why did you say in 1999 that you had known Zuma since 1974?

Shaik: I was referring to my family.

Downer: But you said, 'I have known him since 1974.' That is not correct.

Shaik: It is not.

This little sparring session did nothing to disturb the tranquil mood.

"I wish I had been given the opportunity to explain myself," Shaik said wistfully at one stage, referring to the Scorpions investigation which ultimately led to his trial.

"But we summonsed you," Downer replied, referring to the State's request that Shaik be questioned during the investigation.

Shaik: I had already been charged.

Downer: Not for this case. (Shaik also faces a charge of illegal possession of classified documents.)

Shaik: I could have been trapped into giving answers on other matters.

Downer: Why did you not offer to answer?

Shaik: Clearly, I am the target of some conspiracy. Your approach would have been an adversarial one. So I said I would see you at court.

Then there was the exchange leading Shaik to offer his opinion to the court that black economic empowerment (BEE) should also be for "impoverished white people".

Shaik: The French misunderstood BEE. They had to talk to politicians.

Downer: Did the misunderstanding involve you being Indian?

Shaik: The French thought BEE was only for blacks.

Downer: The French wanted the correct approval from the correct people in the correct place.

Shaik: My father always told me I was Cape Malay. I only set foot in Cape Town in 1979. I am half Cape Malay, half Indian.

Downer: Let's not make speeches. I say BEE was not the French's problem.

Shaik: Well, you go ask Jean-Paul Perrier (of French arms dealer Thomson CSF) what was his problem.

The trial continues.

With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis and The Star.

*1 There has already been evidence that all the Nkobi Group bank accounts managed and payments that were done electronically through ABSA Bank's electronic banking system. Indeed there were very many inter-account transfers. Shaik's and Zuma's bank accounts were also electronically linked.

Just why was it necessary for cheques to be made out?

Why did these have to be provided to the ANC's money man in respect of repayments to Zuma?

The answer is surely that Shaik never had the money to pay and so his favorite habit of keeping things at bay using the time-old ploys of "da cheque's in da mail" and "da post-dated series of cheques" (most of which bounce).