Retired Judge Presiding Over Shaik Trial Will Make Life Easier
Wendy Jasson da Costa
Retired judge Hillary Squires will preside over the Schabir Shaik trial because it will "make life easier for all", Judge President of the Natal Provincial Division, Vuka Tshabalala, said on Wednesday.
The fraud and corruption trial of Shaik, a Durban businessman and financial advisor to Deputy President Jacob Zuma, starts in the Durban High Court on Monday.
Tshabalala told Sapa that he had chosen Squires because "the case may take long and may stop and start and it will be destructive for the functioning of the court".
He said if a judge in active service took on a case like the Shaik trial, "it takes him off his work completely".
"At least a retired judge doesn't have to worry about all the other things he still has to do."
Tshabalala said there were 105 disclosed witnesses and "we don't know how many others there still might be".
According to legislation, judges who have done 15 years of service and who retire before the cut off age of 75 years, can be called on to act for three months every year.
Squires, who is in his early 70s, presided over cases like the Shobashobane massacre which saw the killing of 18 African National Congress supporters in 1995, and the trial of Xerxes Nursingh, who killed his mother and grandparents, but was acquitted on the basis of a psychological disorder.
Squires graduated with a BA LLB from the University of Cape Town in 1955 and was appointed to the Zimbabwe/Rhodesia High Court in 1979.
He resigned in 1984 and settled in Durban where he resumed practice as an attorney in 1986.
He was permanently appointed to the Natal Provincial Division in August 1988.
On Tuesday night his wife, who did not want to be named, told Sapa her husband would not release any statements about the Shaik trial or himself to the media.
"But he definitely isn't 81 as reported in the press and I can't tell you anything about him because I don't want my head bitten off", she said while laughing.
With acknowledgements to Wendy Jasson da Costa and Sapa.