Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2006-09-25 Reporter: Sapa Reporter: Reporter:

Shaik Appeals Corruption Ruling



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The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) heard on Monday that the Durban High Court had not followed the correct approach in interpreting the relationship between Schabir Shaik and former deputy president Jacob Zuma.

Jeremy Gauntlett, for Shaik, said they doubted that statutory corruption had been proved.

"This is not your usual corruption charge," Gauntlett said of Shaik's corruption charge. This charge referred to the "generally corrupt" relationship Shaik had with Zuma.

Zuma's former financial adviser, Shaik was sentenced in June 2005 to 15 years' imprisonment on each of two corruption counts, with an additional three years for fraud. The sentences were to run concurrently.

Zuma himself was later charged with receiving bribes in connection with a controversial arms deal but a judge last week threw out the case.

Prosecutors have hinted they may file fresh charges against Zuma -- a decision that could hinge on whether Shaik wins his appeal this week.

Gauntlett submitted that Shaik and Zuma had a strong, long, existing and prior relationship where support had been given in the past. He argued that evidence given by witnesses in the high court trial pointed to a consistent relationship and contact between Shaik and Zuma.

He said there had been no of indication of a change in the relationship that would have rendered it corrupt.

"Is it at least reasonably, possibly true that without these [monetary] interventions ... Mr Zuma would have done for Mr Shaik and his Nkobi companies exactly what he did?"

Gauntlett also led arguments on whether Shaik had influenced Zuma in his official capacity, or whether he was just helping a friend.

The high court found that the assistance was given with the intent that Zuma should use his general influence to favour the appellants [Shaik and his companies].

In November 2005, Shaik was granted permission to challenge the Durban High Court's fraud finding that he discussed with his auditors the irregular write-off of loans, some made to Zuma.

He was also granted leave to ask the SCA whether the trial court had been correct in admitting into evidence, on one of the corruption charges, an encrypted fax detailing a meeting at which Shaik allegedly negotiated a R500 000-a-year bribe for Zuma.

This, from the then French arms company Thomson-CSF, was to be in return for Zuma's protection from a probe into South Africa's multibillion-rand arms deal.

Masses of documents and trial records were hauled into court one of the SCA earlier on Monday in anticipation of the appeal.

Legal teams for both the state and the defence arrived early. The court building was quiet, and only a few journalists and security staff were present.

With acknowledgement to Sapa, Reuters and Mail & Guardian.