Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2004-10-25 Reporter: Sapa

Shaik Trial Tracks 'the Tailor'



Mail and Guardian

Date 2004-10-25



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The man who is said to be responsible for Nelson Mandela's wardrobe, Yusuf Surtee, was mentioned several times in the Schabir Shaik fraud and corruption trial in the Durban High Court on Monday.

Surtee, also known as "the tailor", is alleged to be the person responsible for short-listing potential bidders in the government's multibillion-rand arms deal.

The state's fifth witness, forensic expert Johan van der Walt, from auditors KPMG, said that on November 18 1998, Parliament decided that the German Frigate Consortium was a preferred bidder in the arms deal.

The court heard that Thomson CSF was involved in this consortium through African Defence Systems (ADS). Nkobi and Thomson CSF had a joint shareholding in ADS.

Van der Walt said the relevance of Surtee and Mandela was evident in a letter by Thomson boss Pierre Moynot dated October 31 1997, which was close to the time when a decision was made about the government's corvette tenders.

In this letter, Moynot says that Surtee appeared to be closer to Mandela than previously thought.

Van der Walt said the person referred to as "the tailor" was possibly Surtee, from documents in his possession, but could also be the person who shut down a number of bids in drawing up a shortlist in the arms deal.

Shaik's advocate Francois van Zyl confirmed that one of the state's witnesses, Marion Marais, said last week that Surtee's code name was "the tailor".

Marais was the secretary to Alain Thetard, the Southern African director of Thomson CSF, now known as Thint.

With acknowledgements to Sapa and the Mail & Guardian.