Publication: Sapa Issued: Durban Date: 2004-10-20 Reporter: Sapa

Shaik Judge Chides Media Again






Date 2004-10-20


Judge Hillary Squires, who is presiding over the Schabir Shaik fraud and corruption trial, on Wednesday again lashed out at the media for inaccurate reporting regarding evidence which was led in the trial on Tuesday.

He was referring to a note the third state witness Susan Delique said she got from Thomson-CSF boss Alain Thetard and then typed up and sent as an encrypted fax.

Delique is a former secretary of arms company Thomson-CSF, now known as Thint, and is under cross examination for a second day at the Durban High Court.

On Tuesday she said the note in question was given to her by Thetard for typing and to be sent via encrypted fax to the company offices in France. The note contains details of plans to give R500 000 a year to Deputy President Jacob Zuma in return for protection from investigations and for support for future projects.

Thetard maintains he threw the note into a rubbish bin.

Squires said that some media representatives did not follow the exchange between counsel regarding the hand written note and warned that it was not evidence of the truth unless the author was identified.

"Until then it is hearsay," Squires said.

On Tuesday Shaik's counsel said they would contest the admissibility of the document at the end of the State's case.

Thetard, now in France and refusing to testify in the trial, said in an affidavit* earlier this year that the note was merely a rough draft of a document "in which I intended to record my thoughts on separate issues in a manner which was not only disjointed but also lacked circumspection".

"It is for this reason that I did not fax this document or direct that it be faxed. I crumpled it and threw it into the waste paper basket from where it was possibly retrieved and provided to the state," he said.

With acknowledgement to Sapa.

* This was the second affidavit. In his first affidavit, in return for which Bulelani dropped the charges against Thint (Pty) Ltd, the this time truthful Frenchman admitted being the author of the handwritten draft of this fax.

Surely, the legal position must be that a witness has testified that the fax was typed from the original hand-written version and was transmitted to its intended destination(s) at the instruction of the originator. The alleged originator of the hand-written draft has averred by means of affidavit under oath that he was the author of the hand-written version. This same affidavit needs to be introduced as evidence in this case. However, it has already been submitted in a review application in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg which is the parent court of the Durban High Court.

For this evidence to be controverted by the defence, they have to put the deponent to the affidavit on the witness stand and allow him to be subjected to cross-examination.

Any which way, this unfortunate situation exposes at best the naivete of Bulelani Ngcuka in dropping the charges against Thint (Pty) Ltd in exchange for an paltry admission which he later controverted in a further and highly incredible affidavit, at worst a cynical construction to limit the expose of Zuma and Thint against criminal charges of corruption.