Publication: Sapa Issued: Durban Date: 2004-10-22 Reporter: Sapa Reporter: Ben Maclennan

Spectator Watches Their Lips






Date 2004-10-22


Ben Maclennan, Sapa


A spectator on Friday showed that there were other ways of looking at the Schabir Shaik trial when he spent the morning viewing the trial from the public gallery through a pair of binoculars.

However Durbanite Gregory Hessenauer had both permission from Judge Hillary Squires, and a good reason: he is hearing impaired.

"I have a hearing problem, and it helps me to see the person's face, because people with hearing problems often rely on visual cues and lip reading," he said.

"You hear a sound, but you can't make a meaning of what that sound is. When you see a person's face you can make sense of a sound."

Hessenauer, who described himself as a businessperson in the alternative health field, wears twin hearing aids.

He said he had wanted to use his well-worn binoculars when he attended the trial on Thursday, but the police on security detail would not allow them into the courtroom.

Squires had since given permission, he said.

He said he was attending the trial out of personal interest, in part because he was contemplating finishing an incomplete law degree.

The Shaik trial was a good opportunity to see how a high-profile trial was run, to watch expert witnesses testifying -- Friday's witness was forensic auditor Johan van der Walt -- and to see how he would manage if he was involved as a lawyer in a similar case.

Because of his hearing problem, the reality was that he would not cope, Hessenauer said. "I wouldn't be able to do justice to my client."

As far as Shaik was concerned, he thought Shaik should have negotiated a plea bargain on a Companies Act offence, he said.

He was "not so sure" that the State would succeed on the corruption charges.

With acknowledgements to Ben Maclennan and Sapa.