Publication: Sunday Times Daily Issued: Date: 2004-10-18 Reporter: Sapa

New Witness Takes Stand in Shaik Trial



Sunday Times Daily

Date 2004-10-18



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The State's second witness in the Schabir Shaik fraud and corruption trial, personal assistant Bianca Singh, took the stand in the Durban High Court on Monday morning.

According to Singh, although she did not appear on the official witness list, she said she was subpoenaed to give a statement to the National Prosecuting Authority and to come to court.

Singh said she met Shaik in 1996 when she, her boyfriend and members of his family were at a restaurant on Durban's Esplanade.

She said Shaik approached her and her sister-in-law and gave them his business card and said they could contact him if they wanted a job.

She went to his company where she was interviewed and in June 1996 employed as a receptionist, and later as a personal assistant within the Nkobi group.

Singh said although she was an employee of Nkobi Holdings, her salary was paid by one of its subsidiaries, Kobifin Pty Ltd, which was part of Nkobi Holdings and accused number four on the state's list.

Last week the first state witness professor Themba Sono went into the witness box and testified about his time as executive director within the Nkobi group.

Singh, in her twenties, said that during her time at the company, Shaik was in regular contact with Deputy President Jacob Zuma on the telephone and Zuma used to visit the offices to talk to him.

At that time, Zuma was the MEC for economic affairs and tourism in KwaZulu-Natal.

Before Singh took the stand, State prosecutor Billy Downer accused the media of sensationalist reporting, citing an article in the Sunday Tribune which contained verbatim details of a KPMG forensic report on Shaik and his companies.

Downer told the court that it was confidential and that it "tends to contravene the sub judice rule".

He said that it was not right that details of the report had been leaked to the press and if they had been leaked, they should not have been published.

Judge Hillary Squires said the media should heed Downer's request and refrain from disclosing evidence.

Meanwhile, the second week of the trial began with many new faces in the court room and, as always, Shaik was accompanied by a group of men who call themselves "dear friends", and not bodyguards.

With acknowledgements to Sapa and the Sunday Times.