Cost of Shaik Trial May Run Into Millions
Estelle Ellis, Kevin Ritchie
The quest for justice in the case of alleged corruption of South Africa's Deputy President for R1,3-million by Schabir Shaik and his various companies could cost Shaik, the government and taxpayers nearly three times that amount by the time his trial in Durban ends.
The next eight weeks could cost R3 794 800 in total, almost three times the amount of money that spawned the trial in the first place, but a fraction of the final total cost to South Africa.
The political cost so far has been dear, claiming the careers of Tony Yengeni former African National Congress chief whip, Bulelani Ncguka the inaugural national director of public prosecutions and Penuell Maduna former minister of justice. But the biggest head of all to roll could be that of Deputy President Jacob Zuma who is widely touted as Thabo Mbeki's successor.
Financially little has been disclosed of the cost of bringing the Scorpions' three-year investigation to court but, since 2001, investigators have flown around the world interviewing witnesses and following up leads.
Shaik on the other hand has been fighting a legal battle to fend off the trial, a battle that his brother Mo said had ruined him financially and almost destroyed his company.
The financial cost of the next eight weeks, if the trial is kept to this time frame, promises to be as steep.
Based on tariffs charged by the major city bar associations a senior counsel can expect to command fees of between R25 000 and R30 000 a day, depending upon the complexity of the case and its projected length, while junior advocates who normally assist SCs in court can charge two thirds of their seniors' fees: R16 500 to R19 800.
The instructing attorneys generally charge half the junior counsels' fees, receiving about R7 500 for each day in court.
The trial is expected to run from Monday for eight weeks, a possible 40 trial days.
Shaik has an SC, Francois van Zyl, who in this case will not be assisted by a junior as is the norm. Assuming his fees are R25 000 a trial day, with the instructing attorney, Reeves Parsee, charging R5 445 a day, Shaik's bill for the trial alone will run to R1 217 800, excluding Van Zyl's accommodation and travel costs in Durban.
Thint, the French arms giant implicated in the charge sheet, will be represented by Kessie Naidu SC. Naidu is expected to be in court for a day only, but could be given a watching brief for the duration of the trial, a cost which could be R25 000 or R1m.
The state will not have instructing attorneys, but will use its own state advocates, both deputy directors of the National Prosecuting Authority: Billy Downer SC from Cape Town and Anton Steynberg from Durban.
They will be assisted by senior state advocate Santhos Manilall, also from Durban. As public servants they are paid salaries as are the presiding officer Judge Hillary Squires and the orderlies.
However the state has also briefed Guido Penzhorn, SC, an expert in corruption cases, who can be expected to charge R25 000 a day or R1m if the trial lasts eight weeks.
Zuma, who is not directly involved in the case, will also be represented at the trial by a team of four lawyers.
Last night chief state law adviser Enver Daniels said the state would pay Zuma's legal costs in connection with the trial. Asked if such a request had been made, he said: "It hasn't be referred, yet."
The state intends calling 105 witnesses.
Witnesses normally expect to be flown to the trial city at state expense, receive full board and accommodation at an upmarket establishment and receive a daily stipend of R350.
Assuming that board and lodging amounts to R650 per day, this is a cost of R1 000 a witness per day or a total of R105 000 if the witnesses only spend one day and one night in Durban.
Eight of the witnesses will be flown to South Africa from as far afield as Britain, Europe, the Far East and Mauritius. Taking an average overseas business-class return flight at R24 000, this cost alone will be R192 000.
Sixty-four witnesses will have to be flown to Durban from around South Africa.
Taking an average business-class return flight at R2 500, this cost could be R160 000.
Expert witnesses can expect fees of R3 000 an hour of testimony. There are four of them, and if each provides 10 hours of evidence in the stand, about the norm, this will amount to R120 000.
The total cost to the state will be in the vicinity of R1 577 000.
With acknowledgements to Kevin Ritchie, Estelle Ellis and the Cape Argus.