Publication: The Natal Witness Issued: Date: 2005-03-02 Reporter: Nivashni Nair Reporter:

Shaik : Zweli Mkhize will be Happy to Testify in My Defence



The Natal Witness




Nivashni Nair

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The Natal Witness
Nivashni Nair
2 March 2005

Under cross-examination at his fraud and corruption trial on Tuesday, Schabir Shaik told the Durban High Court that KwaZulu-Natal Economic Affairs MEC Zweli Mkhize would be "happy" to testify in his defence regarding repayments of the R900 000 which Shaik helped himself to from Deputy President Jacob Zuma's bank account.

However, Shaik's attorney Reeves Parsee later told The Witness that Shaik did not imply that Mkhize would be testifying at the trial as journalists earlier reported.

He said he was not aware if Mkhize would be testifying for the defence. However, "in all probability maybe Shaik and Mkhize discussed it between themselves and Mkhize stated that he would be happy to testify if called". According to Shaik, if Mkhize is called he will testify that Shaik did pay back almost half of the R900 000 which was part of the R2 million which Nelson Mandela had donated to Zuma's RDP Education Fund and the other million to Development Africa, a trust set up to fund renovations at King Goodwill Zwelithini's royal residence. Mkhize was a trustee of the fund.

One million rand went to the education fund while the other million remained in Zuma's account until Shaik took R900 000 from it to use in his Nkobi Group. He claims he did not know that the money was to go to Development Africa.

He told the court that he did not need permission from Zuma to have access to his bank account due to his close friendship and role as Zuma's economic advisor.

When asked by Judge Hillary Squires why he took money from Zuma's account knowing that the deputy president needed money for his Nkandla village, Shaik replied, "That's a very good question, my lord."

He repeatedly told the court that he washed his hands of the Nkandla project, therefore he did not know how much Zuma owed the contractor.

However, state prosecutor Billy Downer SC saw it differently. After grilling Shaik on the run-up to the project and Zuma's financial situation, Downer suggested that Shaik did not worry about taking the R900 000 as he and Zuma were expecting payments as per the service provider agreement with Thomson-CSF International.

The state claims that the service provider agreement was to disguise the alleged bribe.

Shaik on Tuesday denied the state's allegations, saying that he had nothing to do with Nkandla and did not contribute a cent towards it. For the second time under cross-examination, Shaik admitted that certain facts pertaining to his qualifications and relationship with Zuma were overstated.

On Tuesday he admitted that in a letter to a foreign businessman in 1994, he had "incorrectly" stated that he had worked with the deputy president for 25 years, which at the time indicated that Shaik had known Zuma since 1974. However, Shaik previously told the court that he met Zuma in mid-80s.

When asked by Downer why he overstated his relationship with Zuma and if it was done to impress business partners, Shaik replied that he "just got the dates wrong".

When Downer put it to him that he falsified his credentials and relationship with Zuma to use Zuma's influence to win his business contracts, Shaik said that Zuma was his close friend who knew him well enough to help him educate the French about Black Economic Empowerment.

With acknowledgements to Nivashni Nair and The Natal Witness.