Publication: Cape Argus Issued: Date: 2006-11-03 Reporter: Gill Gifford Reporter:

I'm Ready for Jail - Shaik



Cape Argus




Gill Gifford

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Zuma benefactor tells of faith and fear ahead of Monday's judgment

Schabir Shaik is facing the longest weekend of his life - counting the hours to the judgment day that could see him going to jail for years.

This morning Jacob Zuma's friend and benefactor - and the man whom a judge found had had a "generally corrupt relationship" with the former deputy president - said he was bracing for "the worst possible outcome" on Monday.

And that could be a maximum of 15 years behind bars.

Last year Shaik was sentenced to 15 years on each of two counts of corruption and to three years for fraud. The sentences were to run concurrently.

On Monday at 9.45am the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein will hand down its verdict on Shaik's bid to have Judge Hilary Squires's convictions and sentences set aside.

On Talk Radio 702 this morning, Shaik spoke of his anxiety, the joy he had felt over the past five months since the birth of his son, and how he had prepared himself for prison.

He said he had spent recent weeks "taking things easy at home in Durban with my wife and family and my son".

The birth of his son, he said, had changed his life.

"It's absolutely gratifying, fulfilling emotionally and spiritually. I can't describe that kind of love and enjoyment," he said.

Speaking about how Monday's judgment had been weighing on his mind, Shaik said: "In a sense, since my charge in October 2001 and subsequent trial, I feel glad it is coming to an end.

"But it's also very frightening - no, that's not the word. It's something you can't predict the outcome of. It's such a big unknown. There's anxiety. But I am taking it one day at a time."

Asked if he had any idea what was likely to happen, Shaik responded: "I believe our Lord is the best of planners and I put my faith in his care. Sometime in life you realise your trust in man lets you down and you turn to your Lord. And I have done so. One can only wish for the best outcome.

"But man must decide what man must decide and I will be judged only by my Lord."

On the possibility that he would go to the Constitutional Court if the appeal bid failed, he said: "My counsel has indicated to the appellate judges that he reserves the right to go to the Constitutional Court … so that provision is there. But one has to prove one has a constitutional case before even embarking on that matter.

"On Monday, once the full judgment has been received, we will analyse it and he will advise me on the appropriate action to take. We will march forward on that. If there's constitutional merit, so be it. We will march forward on that basis."

The prospect of jail time is one Shaik had been considering quite deeply, he said.

"Mentally, emotionally and spiritually I have braced myself for the worst possible outcome and internalised possible incarceration.

"If it does occur, I will be as prepared as one can be. Over the years my brother has been in solitary confinement and incarcerated and that has helped me brace myself.

"I am not worried about incarceration because a lot of prophets have been to jail at some time and come out stronger, so let's see what happens. I am ready."

When asked if he was still in touch with Zuma, Shaik replied: "Yes, we have been in regular contact. I see him and he sees me. He has inquired about my boy and was delighted with my son. I was delighted he could spend time with me. We have spent a lot of time talking to each other, and that's honest and what friends are for.

"I hope the outcome in my case contributes positively to his matter. That's what I pray for very deeply."

Shaik will not be present in the Appeal Court on Monday.

"I am going to be with the advocate … waiting for the outcome so I can be on hand to take whatever action there and then. I'll be in Cape Town."

With acknowledgements to Gill Gifford and Cape Argus.