Publication: The Citizen
Reporter: Paul Kirk
'An Alleged Tale of a Public Relations Officer on
Not many people have heard of
Africa Confidential – the publication’s own website describes it as a newsletter
and not a magazine. It seldom runs to more than four pages but all the same it
costs over US$1200 a year to subscribe to. That’s a bit more than R7
It’s a fair bet that the average man or woman in the street is not
about to fork over that amount of cash for four A4 pages of newsletter every two
weeks and so it’s also a pretty fair bet that not many people are aware that the
documents linking former Deputy President Jacob Zuma to a prostitute first
appeared on Africa Confidential’s pages.
Months ago the publication
carried all the technicolour detail of how Sabeer Sheikh-Ibrahim, the former
Managing Director of Kobitech Transport Systems, had told the Scorpions that
Jacob Zuma and Schabir Shaik shared the services of a young lady who was paid
for out of Kobitech Transport Services salary accounts.
Africa-Confidential carried was much more explicit than anything the SA media
has run, including the quote about how the girl would: “pomp” with Zuma in
return for payment.
Cape Town businessman, and failed arms deal bidder,
Richard Young has been kind enough to put up the offending Africa Confidential
story called “Gunning for JZ” on his website, which carries what must amount to
very close to every article ever written on South Africa’s controversial R60
billion arms deal.
Anyone reading Young’s website would realize that
Africa-Confidential was in possession of Sabeer Sheikh-Ibrahim’s transcribed
testimony way back when they first ran the story.
It’s also quite clear
that Zuma and the man who allegedly pimped the girl to Zuma, Schabir Shaik, were
aware of this. The article carries quotes from both Zuma’s spokesman and Nkobi
Holdings – Shaik’s company – which was approached for comment about the
It never carried any quotes from Sheikh-Ibrahim himself – but
the man that Zuma yesterday described as a “dismissed former managing director”
has spoken to me, and a quick search on the internet reveals he has spoken to
many other hacks as well.
Sheikh-Ibrahim seemed a pleasant enough fellow
when I met him. He spoke to me at length told me he was keen to assist arms deal
investigators if ever asked to do so. It’s not surprising then that
Sheikh-Ibrahim gave the Scorpions testimony about Shaik and his dealings with
This week an unholy row has broken out because the media have
printed some of the details contained in the transcript of Sheikh-Ibrahim’s
testimony. Zuma, through his lawyer, has claimed to be the victim of a smear and
once again attacked the media by alleging unethical behaviour in obtaining the
Yesterday the National Prosecuting Authority asked the Public
Protector to probe whether they leaked the transcript.
The speed with
which the NPA asked the Public Protector to probe the leak, should tell everyone
something about their almost certain lack of complicity in making the testimony
Reading the transcript it’s pretty clear to anyone reading the
document what happened. The transcript is not marked “Secret” or anything like
that. It also has a number of errors in it, and a few spaces where the typist
has noted the recording was inaudible.
I’m no expert on these things but
to my simple mind this is clearly a draft transcript that was sent back to those
who were involved in the interview to check for accuracy and fill in the missing
words. Some how, some time after being returned to those involved in its
production it then was made public.
There’s no crime or unethical
behaviour involved in possessing the transcript. And the transcript could have
been given to the media by a number of people other than official investigators
from the Scorpions.
I’m not about to reveal who gave me my copy of the
transcript, but it wasn’t anyone from the NPA.
I doubt the other copies
floating about came from the NPA either.
The document carries no
instructions that it has to be returned or destroyed once corrected.
Secretaries, typists, those involved in taking the transcript as well as
Sheikh-Ibrahim himself all had access to this draft transcript.
now probably about to have another very expensive investigation into a real
sideshow – who gave the transcript to the media..
The real issue South
African’s need the answer to is whether our former Deputy President is a corrupt
sexual predator or a noble man who has been falsely accused of evil deeds. We’ll
find that out in a court of law – not by having an inquiry into how the media
came to be in possession of an unclassified draft transcript of someone’s
And I would argue that now that we know Sheikh-Ibrahim is a
witness for the prosecution of Zuma it’s a matter of huge public interest to
know what his testimony will be.
If Jacob Zuma feels so aggrieved by the
publication of Sabeer Sheikh-Ibrahim’s testimony then he should take action
against Sheikh-Ibrahim for defamation. It’s Sheikh-Ibrahim’s testimony the media
are reporting on after all – and if the testimony is made up then Zuma has every
right to be angry.
If Zuma felt so outraged by the leaking of evidence
he should have complained months ago when Africa Confidential first let him know
they had a copy of the transcript.
Complaining now, only after the mass
media in South Africa publish the story, makes it look like a cynical ploy to
get a little bit more sympathy by bashing the press.
With acknowledgements to Paul Kirk and The Citizen.