Shaik Fax Mystery
Jeremy Gordin, Estelle Ellis
The mystery around a French secretary's discovery of a so-called document purporting to detail a bribe to Deputy President Jacob Zuma, deepened during cross-examination this morning.
Questioned by Francois van Zyl, SC, on behalf of Schabir Shaik, Sue Delique explained that she had told the auditors of French arms company Thomson CSF about the alleged bribe document that she had been asked to type.
Delique made it clear that she did not tell the auditors that she had a typed version of the document on a disc.
Delique claimed she only discovered the disc in September this year. She had happened to grab the disk as she left the company.
But Van Zyl said he had a sworn statement by an auditor taken during the discussions in April 2000 that said Delique's possession of the typed document was talked about.
"The auditor told her she could have typed anything she liked," Van Zyl said. "The statement further said that even though Delique claimed to have both the handwritten fax and the typed version, the auditors never saw either."
Emerging from court yesterday, Shaik said smilingly: "Well, at least I've finally seen it." And so in effect had the whole of South Africa.
Shaik, on trial in the Durban High Court for corruption and fraud, was referring to the "encrypted fax", allegedly sent from the Pretoria office of arms dealer Thomson-CSF by Alain Thetard, a company director, to colleagues in Paris.
In the fax, dated March 17, 2000 and addressed to Yann de Jomaron of Thomson-CSF, Thetard writes that he has finally been able to meet "JZ" privately "in the presence of SS". Thetard writes that he had asked for an "encoded" confirmation from JZ that he, JZ, would protect Thomson-CSF in the then investigations into the arms deal by parliament (known as Sitron) and would also "permanently support" Thomson-CSF in "future projects".
Thomson-CSF, along with Shaik's Nkobi Holdings, was part of the group that in turn was part of the German Frigate Consortium, which had been announced by the government on November 18, 1998, as the preferred bidder for the contract to construct corvettes for South Africa.
In the fax, having said what was required from Zuma, Thetard writes one final line: "Amount: 500k ZAR per annum (until the first payment of the dividends by ADS)". ADS was African Defence Systems, also part of the Thomson/Nkobi group and the actual manufacturer of the corvette computerised command and control "combat suites".
The state contends - it is charge number three against Shaik - that this fax represents a clear request from Shaik for a bribe of R500 000 a year for two years for Zuma.
But, only after cross-examination today of the former Thomson-CSF secretary who gave the fax to the Scorpions, will be heard on whether the document is in fact genuine and whether therefore Judge Hilary Squires should even admit it as evidence.
Delique said that she handed in her resignation as there had been an altercation between herself and Thetard and she, "fearing for her safety", had grabbed her handbag and a number of papers on her desk, and fled.
Later she had found that one of the papers was a copy of the fax.
The copy of the fax was handed to the Scorpions early in 2001. Then, in September this year, she examined an old computer disk in her possession.
She had apparently also taken this with her in 2000, when she left the Thomson-CSF offices. On it she found that she had "saved" a copy of the fax.
With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis, Jeremy Gordin and the Daily News.