Point Development : Zuma Tried to Help Shaik
Wendy Jasson da Costa, Ben Maclennan,
Documents show that Jacob Zuma tried to secure Schabir Shaik's Nkobi group a share in the Durban Waterfront's abortive Point development, the Durban High Court heard on Friday.
The attempt was made in the second half of 1996 when Zuma, who is now deputy president, was still kwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Affairs.
The Point project, which was to have been driven by the Malaysian Renong group, would have been worth at least R100 million.
Forensic auditor Johan van der Walt told the court it appeared this was one of the first projects the Nkobi group had been interested in.
However, Renong had already offered a 49% black empowerment shareholding to a consortium led by Mzi Khumalo.
Khumalo today is the chairman of JCI mining house. However, after a visit by Shaik to Malaysia, Renong wrote to Zuma saying Shaik had expressed an interest and asked for his "judgement" on which group Renong should partner with.
"It appears that Shaik had reason to believe that Zuma's influence would ensure that the share of 49% or part thereof in the Point development would be allocated to the Nkobi group of companies." Van der Walt said there was evidence that Zuma had participated in discussions and meetings with Renong to resolve the 49% stake.
However, there were no indications that any of the discussions and meetings actually led to the Nkobi group acquiring an interest in the project.
Van der Walt told the court that from around 1995 the Nkobi group positioned itself in the Arms industry and that Shaik and "various individuals" visited Malaysia to meet its deputy defence minister.
"Documentation indicates that Zuma accompanied Shaik on a visit to Malaysia during July/August 1995" said Van der Walt.
He said Shaik had indicated to the Malaysians that the Nkobi group had purchased majority shares in South African companies involved in defence-related technologies, but it was not true as the Nkobi group was "still in its embryonic stage".
Van der Walt said some letters seized from the Nkobi group of companies appeared to have been created at Nkobi even though they were written in the name of senior figures in the African National Congress.
He said one of these letters was written in the name of then ANC treasurer general Makhenkisi Stofile, but not signed by him.
Dated May 9, 1995, it was addressed to the executive chairman of the Malaysian Renong group and indicated that Stofile would be going to Malaysia later that month and that he wanted to meet the country's prime minister and minister of defence.
Van der Walt earlier pointed out a similar unsigned letter also found on the file in the name of a senior ANC official in kwaZulu-Natal, Zweli Mkhize, acknowledging, on behalf of the organisation, receipt of a dividend from Nkobi.
In one of the letters drafted in the name of one Makhtar, who appeared to be an executive director of one of the Renong entities, Zuma is informed that the group was particularly interested in the Point Development Project, the proposed new La Mercy airport and hotel sites.
Van der Walt said the purpose of the letter was to invite the new treasurer-general (presumably to be Stofile), Shaik and Zuma to Malaysia " to explore" meaningful investment and mutually beneficial opportunities in kwaZulu-Natal."
He said on August 8, 1995, Shaik wrote to the South African High Commissioner in Malaysia, Ms M Mohale, to thank her "for the assistance and guidance during the trip with Zuma."
In the letter Shaik told Mohale that Nkobi Holdings "has acquired a major interest in share ownership in defence-related companies in South Africa." He also mentioned that the Malaysians were apparently "very keen in obtaining these technologies for their defence capabilities."
He said in August 1995 Shaik indicated to the Malaysian deputy defence minister that the Nkobi group had purchased majority shares in companies involved in defence-related technologies like aeronautical engineering and naval defence systems.
Van der Walt said at that stage the Nkobi group of companies had very limited operations and investments in a number of entities, most of which were -- to this day -- dormant.
He said they were also not able to prove that any of the Nkobi companies was the "majority" shareholder in any of the companies directly or indirectly related to the operations as Shaik had told the Malaysian defence ministry.
The name of former Police Commissioner George Fivaz also came up in court on Friday.
Van der Walt said in 1995 Shaik wrote a letter to Jean-Marc Pizano of Advanced Technology and Engineering, an aeronautical service provider, in which the structure of Nkobi Holdings was discussed.
According to this structure Nkobi Holdings would obtain 80% shareholding in a new company, Kobipol. Van der Walt said notes in their possession under the heading "Kobipol" indicated that the Kobipol project would be involved in the handling of police technology equipment in South Africa.
Van der Walt said it was clear that "Shaik had reason to believe he could influence tender procedures" through Fivaz.
With acknowledgement to Wendy Jasson da Costa, Ben Maclennan and Sapa.