Judge Warns Mo Shaik over Media
Judge Hilary Squires this morning cautioned spin doctors for the State and Schabir Shaik not to "overstep the mark" when giving interviews to the media.
"The freedom of expression is not an absolute right," he said.
The judge's comments at the start of proceedings today came in the wake of prosecutor Billy Downer's complaining to the court yesterday about an interview Shaik's brother Mo had given to the media.
Mo Shaik had apparently accused the state of dragging Nelson Mandela's name into the trial and of having an improper motive for doing so. The judge then asked Downer to obtain transcripts of this.
This morning, the judge said he no longer needed them. "If interviews are being given which could prejudice the outcome of the trial, then this could amount to contempt of court. The test is not whether it has reached the ears of the tribunal or whether the tribunal believes it or not, it is only whether it could pre-judice the trial."
Meanwhile, forensic auditor Johan van der Walt testified yesterday that Shaik and his companies were "stretched to their limits" with an overdraft of more than R500 000 in August 1999.
The financial manager pleaded with him twice to cut costs, look at legal fees, cars, travel and salaries, and "watch expenses for the ANC".
And yet, said van der Walt, Shaik and his companies were still making payments to and on behalf of Deputy President Jacob Zuma. In August that year, these amounted to more than R600 000.
Dealing with the cashflows of Shaik's Nkobi group of companies through "factual information" from bankers Absa, van der Walt said they had been in overdraft between 1999 and 2001.
"The general decline in the net cash resources has a direct correlation with the amounts we identified as having been paid for and on behalf of Zuma," he said.
"The payments had a fundamental effect on the business. As the cash balances decreased, so the payments increased.
"If it were not for these payments, or if Zuma had repaid them, then the group would have remained cash positive. The group did not have sufficient funds to provide these loans without the overdrafts and they endangered the very existence of the businesses."
Dealing with documents which he said were internal memoranda and correspondence with the bank, Van der Walt said:
l In March 1999, Nkobi's overdraft was more than R352 000. At that time, it had made payments to Zuma of almost R485 000. In May 1999, the overdraft limit was increased by the bank to R450 000. The actual overdraft was just over R384 000. The payments to Zuma by then totalled R528 000.
In June 1999, group financial manager Marcia Muiznieks told Shaik they had a "cashflow crisis".
They owed R776 000 to the taxman, R676 000 to creditors and only had R323 785 in overdraft. And yet the payments to Zuma had reached a cumulative total of R534 000. In August, with an overdraft of R441 000 and Nkobi "stretched to its limits", Muiznieks had written to Shaik again, imploring him to cut costs. By then, the payments to Zuma were over R600 000.
With acknowledgements to Tanya Broughton and the Cape Argus.