Publication: Sapa Issued: Durban Date: 2004-10-18 Reporter: Ben Maclennan

Shaik PA Cross-Examined






Date 2004-10-18


Ben Maclennan


Schabir Shaik's former personal assistant was closely questioned on Monday afternoon on whether she could tell the difference between diagrams for a corvette, a patrol boat and a fishing boat.

Bianca Singh was being cross-examined by Shaik's advocate Francois van Zyl on her earlier testimony that she had seen a laminated copy of diagrams for the arms deal corvettes in a cupboard in Shaik's office.

Asked whether she knew what a diagram of a corvette looked like, she said she did.

Asked to explain the difference between that and plans for a patrol boat or fishing vessel, she said "a fishing vessel is a boat and has nets..."

Asked by Van Zyl whether she would expect nets on plans for a fishing vessel, she said they would be rolled up.

A corvette "is the one they use in war", she said.

"It would be a corvette if its got the military... I don't know what it's called."

However, she added that Shaik himself had told her the diagrams were of corvettes.

Van Zyl said the only diagrams available at that time (1996) were those of patrol boats that French arms company Thint was working on*.

With acknowledgement to Ben Maclennan, Wendy Jasson da Costa and Sapa.

* Nonsense - the SA Navy and Armscor had lots of "diagrams" of the many and various contenders for the frigate or patrol corvettes planned by the SA Navy since 1993. Four options [from Spain (Bazan), United Kingdom (Yarrows), France (DCN) and Denmark] had already been short-listed for the first round of corvette acquisition, by then aborted by the Cabinet in early 1995. The German Meko 200 or 300 (Blohm+Voss) was not even on the short-list - classic case of Zero to Hero.

Thompson-CSF and DCN of France, through their agent Elf of France, had by then already supplied (or were in the process of supplying) six La Fayette frigates to Taiwan and two to Saudi Arabia. Thomson wanted to sell the entire frigate to the SA Navy, not just the combat management system and sensors (search radar, tracking radar, sonar).

Shaikh and his needy friends and relatives would have got a Big bonus if Chippy had been able to swing the entire La Fayette this way.

But by 1996 other Bigger Fish had already swung the Zero to Hero, much to Bazan's absolute disgust.