Publication: City Press Issued: Date: 2004-10-29 Reporter: Iaine Harper Reporter:

Shaik Paid Zuma's Tab - Witness



City Press

Date 2004-10-29


Iaine Harper

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A State witness testifying against the financial adviser of embattled deputy president Jacob Zuma said on Friday there was possible proof the top politician had taken thinly disguised bribes to support an extravagant lifestyle.

KPMG auditor Johan van der Walt detailed an intricate web of financial dealings between Zuma's adviser Schabir Shaik and his company, Nkobi Holdings, the local subsidiary of a French multinational, and Zuma himself.

In one of post-apartheid South Africa's biggest trials, Shaik faces three main charges of fraud and corruption which include claims that he paid Zuma to use his political clout to secure business deals.

Shaik has said he made several loans to Zuma, whom he describes as an old friend.

"There is no indication in the books of Nkobi of an existence of a loan to Zuma," van der Walt told Durban High Court on Friday.

'Loans' in exchange for influence

In addition to the main counts of fraud and corruption, Shaik faces secondary counts including money laundering, tax evasion, fraud and contravening the Companies Act.

Shaik has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but has admitted he made "loans" to Zuma who had financial troubles.

He allegedly paid Zuma nearly R1,3m between 1995 and 2001 to use his political influence to help secure lucrative business deals for Nkobi.

Shaik also stands accused of brokering a bribe between Zuma and Thint, the South African subsidiary of the French arms and engineering firm, Thales International, formerly Thomson-CSF.

According to the alleged deal, Thint would pay Zuma R500 000 a year in return for protection from investigations into suspected irregularities in a controversial multibillion-rand government arms deal.

The state has submitted a 259-page report, which was commissioned by the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) as evidence that payments Shaik made to Zuma amounting to almost R1.2m were intended as bribes.

After a relatively slow start a little more than two weeks ago, the trial - which has far-reaching political implications for South Africa's second citizen - has gained dramatic momentum.

Three former secretaries - of whom two worked for former Thompson-CSF boss Alain Thetard and for Shaik - testified on the alleged annual bribe the French company had agreed to pay Zuma.

Financial records then showed that, on a monthly basis, Zuma spent more than he earned.

Armani and Gucci suits

The court also heard how Shaik picked up the tab for everything: from Zuma's rent and car payments to his children's school fees and even his telephone bills.

The businessman provided the deputy president with Armani and Gucci suits.

van der Walt testified that, according to the forensic probe, part of R2m given to Zuma by former president Nelson Mandela in October 2000 was used to pay Zuma and Shaik's debts.

The money, the State said, was intended for a provincial education trust fund.

With acknowledgements to Iaine Harper and the City Press.