Publication: Cape Argus Issued: Date: 2004-10-14 Reporter: Estelle Ellis Reporter: Jeremy Gordin

Prosecutor Names Roleplayers in Shaik Trial



Cape Argus

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. He is on trial for two charges of corruption and one of fraud. On Wednesday, Downer stressed that corruption is to gain an advantage that someone, who is not paying for power or influence, would not have.

These are the roleplayers identified in Downer's opening remarks:

Shaik: Durban businessman with a number of "alter egos" 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, the former minister for economic affairs and tourism in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature from 1994 to 1999.

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 clear on Wednesday 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.

Later other companies like Thales International Africa were created.

On Wednesday Downer 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, since their international partner Thomson-CSF chose to invest directly in ADS and not through Nkobi.

This was in breach of an agreement. The situation was later corrected when through Zuma's mediation, Nkobi got a 20 percent indirect shareholding through Thint in ADS.

This meant that they could now share in the profit that stood to be made out of the arms deal. Downer said they can prove that Zuma received R421 986 for mediating in the share dispute.

The state's first witness, deputy leader of the Independent Democrats Themba Sono, will give evidence on Thursday.

With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis, Jeremy Gordin and the Cape Argus.