Publication: Cape Argus Issued: Date: 2005-03-01 Reporter: Estelle Ellis Reporter:

Shaik Gets Grilling and Admits : I Lied



Cape Argus




Estelle Ellis

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In a dramatic showdown of tactical ambushes, sharp answers and lightning-fast cross-examination, Durban businessman Schabir Shaik admitted he had lied about his qualifications and concealed his financial assistance to Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

Shaik told the Durban High Court yesterday that he had concealed from Nelson Mandela that he had rendered financial assistance to Shaik, because Mandela would not have helped Zuma if he had known.

Those present stared in horrified surprise when Shaik then tried to imitate Mandela's voice, saying that the ex-president was only going to say: "Here is that Shaik again."

In another twist, Shaik's brother Mo was whispering answers, rather loudly, to stop Shaik giving the State access to more of his financial records.

At 10 am this morning the siege was set to continue.

Shaik has pleaded not guilty to corruption and fraud.

The normally even-tempered Billy Downer SC had everybody in court sitting up straight with the hostile start to his cross-examination of Shaik.

Downer started by getting Shaik to admit that he had lied about having an MBA, lied about studying at "prestigious universities", lied about being a qualified engineer and lied about being a published author.

The fake details were published in a brochure of his company, Nkobi.

Downer asked how this had happened.

"I used it (the false qualifications) to promote confidence and impress customers," Shaik said.

After this Downer's questions became more and more incisive and impatient. Shaik's answers became more and more sarcastic.

Asked why Zuma insisted he charge interest, although it was against Shaik's religious convictions as a Muslim, Shaik said: "If we did not charge interest, he had to declare benefits to parliament."

"Why did he not declare interest-free loans from you?" Downer asked. "He had accepted me charging interest," Shaik answered.

"It seems that Zuma did not wish to reveal that you were paying him money," Downer said. "That is one view," Shaik replied.

Shaik then explained why, when he was asked to draw up a list of Zuma's debts for Mandela, he listed himself as a creditor under the name of his family trust.

"I did not want Mandela to know that Zuma owed me money," he said.

After probing, Shaik revealed he and Mandela had had a dispute about the suitability of a Malaysian model of economic empowerment for the South African economy.

"I wished to conceal the money I paid to Zuma from Mandela," Shaik said, imitating Mandela's voice.

"I knew that if Mandela saw my name he would not wish to fund the Deputy President."

Shaik said Mandela had finally agreed to help Zuma under certain conditions, but Zuma declined the offer.

But it was Downer's question about Shaik's other financial records that produced his brother's intervention from the gallery.

Downer: Can you produce your records of the past few years to us? Shaik: If the court so wishes.

Brother Mo whispered rather loudly from the back: "No! No!"

Shaik replied: "No. I don't believe I am charged with it. I wish to take advice on this."

The trial continues.

With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis and the Cape Argus.