Scorpions Ready : Case Against Zuma
The Scorpions took the highly unusual step yesterday of releasing the final indictment in the trial of Durban businessman Schabir Shaik, which persists in linking Deputy President Jacob Zuma to acts of corruption.
The trial is due to start on Monday.
The final charge sheet maintains the vast majority of the assertions made when the first draft was published, but appears to fudge some key issues, including diminishing the focus on the now notorious encrypted fax.
The Scorpions also released their witness list, which is unchanged from the list published in the weekend press. It does not include Zuma as a witness, and also excludes two key witnesses, both of whom were secretaries to parties involved in the trial.
Both are, however, scheduled to give evidence in the trial, along with a number of other secret witnesses, but their names are being withheld at this point to protect their privacy.
The indictment charges Shaik and 10 companies he represented with corruption, fraud, theft and money laundering, but drops a charge in terms of the Income Tax Act that appeared in the original charge sheet.
It paints a picture of a businessman using his political connections with Zuma to form relationships and secure introductions, and who later facilitated payments as a consequence of those introductions.
Zuma has strenuously denied involvement in corruption.
The indictment says: "Accused 1 (Shaik) and/or the corporate accused have benefited Zuma in the period October 1 1995 to September 30 2002 in the amount of R1340078,01.
"The payments to Zuma make no legitimate business sense, in that neither accused, nor the Nkobi group, could afford the payments, being at all times in a cash-starved position (and) relying on and at times exceeding bank overdrafts and thus effectively borrowing money from banks at the prevailing interest rates to make the said payments interest free."
In addition to these payments, the indictment says: "In the period 1999 to 2000, the accused agreed to pay Zuma the amount of R500000 a year as a bribe in exchange for Zuma's protection and support of the accused for future projects.
"The payments made to Zuma, who would not otherwise have been able to meet his liabilities and fund his excessive expenditure, were corruptly made in furtherance of an ongoing scheme to influence Zuma to use his office or position to advance the accused's private business interests and/or reward Zuma."
Effectively, the charge sheet asserts that Zuma was offered a bribe, that he received money in pursuance of the bribe, and that he acted on his undertakings in terms of the bribe.
The indictment and associated summary of substantial facts does not appear to focus in any detail on a meeting between representatives of arms company Thales (now Thint) on March 11 2000 . Nor is the encrypted fax that was allegedly sent after this meeting mentioned in any detail.
With acknowledgements to Tim Cohen and the Business Day.