The Shaik Show Starts
Zoubair Ayoob, Sapa
Four brothers and two bodyguards accompanied Schabir Shaik to the start of his corruption and fraud trial.
Former ANC spy Mo Shaik; Chippy Shaik, who headed the Department of Defence's acquisitions team; lawyer Yunus Shaik; and businessman Faizel Shaik joined family friends in showing their solidarity.
The entourage's appearance at the Durban High Court yesterday sparked a frenzied media crush for pictures and interviews.
Otherwise proceedings got off to a low-key start, adjourning early after several hours of argument on an e.tv application to televise the trial live.
Judge Hillary Squires was to give a ruling this afternoon, ahead of the start of the trial tomorrow.
A tense-looking Shaik sat through the arguments alongside his legal team at a table under the nose of the judge, as newspaper artists sketched his profile.
Ironically, it was the two dozen journalists who sat in the massive dock that fills the centre of Court A.
Behind them, a scattering of members of the public and police officers occupied the public gallery.
Shaik, who has not yet been asked to plead, faces two counts of corruption and one of fraud.
He is alleged to have made payments of about R1,2-million for Deputy President Jacob Zuma's benefit between 1996 and 2002, in return for Zuma using his political clout to further Shaik's complex business interests.
He is also accused of arranging with a French arms company to pay Zuma R500 000 a year in return for "protection" against a probe into irregularities in the arms deal.
When proceedings began just before 10am, lead prosecutor Billy Downer formally withdrew corruption charges against arms company Thint, a subsidiary of the company involved in the bribe claim.
The move was in terms of an agreement with the National Prosecuting Authority in return for confirmation from Thint director Alain Thetard that he was the author of a document that allegedly records the bribe offer to Zuma.
Downer also asked that the criminal part of the trial be postponed to allow e.tv's application to be heard.
Obviously not interested in this "sideshow", Shaik's brothers joined the smokers in the corridor, producing various brands of cigarettes and a pipe with which to while away the time in between doing business on their cellphones.
The courtyard was a hive of activity as journalists - armed with laptops, microphones, cellphones and notebooks - filed stories to meet deadlines around the world.
Shaik emerged during the morning recess and, using some colourful language, joked that no tea had been laid on. "Things are not organised here. Where's the tea?" he said.
He then left with his entourage, presumably to have tea.
With acknowledgements to Zoubair Ayoob, Sapa and The Star.