Tea Upstages Other Concerns as Hearing Gets Under Way
If Schabir Shaik was nervous at the start of his trial in the Durban High Court yesterday, he was not showing it, the availability of tea appearing to be his chief concern.
Shaik, dressed in a pin-stripe suit and white shirt, arrived accompanied by his brother Mo, sparking off a frenzied crush of journalists for pictures and interviews.
It was left to Mo to mutter a curt "no comment" before the pair and their entourage disappeared into the court house.
Entering the building was an ordeal in itself.
No parking was allowed on Victoria Embankment immediately in front of the court and the labour department's offices. A metal barrier obstructed the court entrance and after negotiating it one joined the queue waiting to have bags scanned and walk through the metal detector.
The Public Order Policing Unit was prominently in evidence and a few members wielded hand-held detectors to "frisk" those entering the court.
Journalists were accommodated in the dock normally reserved for the accused while Shaik took a seat alongside his legal team. Surprisingly, the public gallery was not filled to capacity, followers of the case obviously wise to the fact that e.tv's application to broadcast the trial would be heard first.
Clearly not interested in this "side show," Shaik's brothers joined the smokers in the corridor outside the court which was a hive of activity as journalists - armed with laptops, microphones, cellphones and notebooks - filed stories to meet various deadlines around the world.
Shaik emerged during the morning recess and, using some colourful language, joked that there was no tea laid on.
"Things are not organised here. Where's the tea?" he said.
The Nkobi Holdings boss then disappeared, probably among other things to find his cuppa.
With acknowledgements to Zoubair Ayoob and the Cape Times.