Publication: Daily News Issued: Date: 2004-10-14 Reporter: Estelle Ellis Reporter: Jeremy Gordin

State Outlines Case



Daily News

Date 2004-10-14


Estelle Ellis, Jeremy Gordin

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In an equally calm and confident manner, Schabir Shaik and the man responsible for prosecuting him, Billy Downer, SC, explained to a packed Durban High Court why each believes he is correct.

In a bold opening statement, Downer said he was aware of the heavy burden on the State's case but is confident that it can be proved.

Shaik insisted that he was not guilty, that he had done nothing wrong and that the State must prove its allegations.

He is on trial for two charges of corruption and one of fraud.

In a three-hour powerpoint presentation, Downer yesterday outlined where the State would go and whom it would call.

Downer yesterday stressed that corruption is to gain an advantage that someone, who is not paying for power or influence, would not have.

These are the role players identified in Downer's opening remarks:

Shaik: Durban businessman with a number of "alter egosā" in his business empire. Some of these include the corporate accused charged with him. They are Nkobi Holdings, Nkobi Investments, Kobifin, Kobitech, Pro Con Africa, Kobitech Transport Systems and Proconsult.

Deputy President Jacob Zuma, MEC for Economic Affairs and Tourism in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature from 1994 to 1999. Since July 1999 he has been the deputy president, leader of government business and a member of parliament.

The State alleges that Zuma received R1.2 million from Shaik and his companies even though during the time of the payments (from 1995 to 2002) Nkobi was often in financial trouble. The State also alleges that these payments were hidden as "expenses, development costs, loan accounts, vat or not identified accounting records." The State will further argue that Zuma was, during this time, almost always in financial trouble.

Judge Hilary Squires however made it very clear yesterday that Zuma was not on trial.

Alain Thetard: Thetard is a director of both the French and the South African Thomson-CSF companies. The State alleged that he played a role in a bribe allegedly solicited by Shaik for Zuma.

Thomson-CSF/Thales/Thint: French arms company, formed a South African subsidiary in 1996 of which Nkobi Holdings was a shareholder. Shaik was a director of both Thomson CSF and Nkobi Holdings. He resigned as a director in September 1999.

Downer yesterday said in his opening address that they believe Thomson created a "backdoor process" for the R450 million contract of combat suites for the corvettes by involving Zuma. The South African company African Defence Systems: ADS was identified by a number of entities as the South African company that stood to profit considerably by the arms deal. Nkobi was initially barred from having a share in ADS.

The situation was later corrected when through the mediation of Deputy President Jacob Zuma, Nkobi got a 20% indirect shareholding through Thint in ADS. Downer said they can prove that Zuma received R421 986 for mediating in the share dispute.

The fraud charge against Shaik relates to the irregular "writing off" of loans by Nkobi.

The second part of the State's case is an allegation that Shaik was involved in soliciting a bribe of R1 million for Zuma in exchange for him protecting the French arms giant, now known as Thint, against probes into the arms deal as well as his future support.

With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis, Jeremy Gordin and the Daily News.