Publication: Sunday Times Issued: Date: 2006-11-12 Reporter: Paddy Harper Reporter:

Swagger Nowhere To Be Seen



Sunday Times




Paddy Harper

Web Link


Schabir Shaik looked genuinely stunned when he arrived at Durban’s High Court at 8.27am on Thursday to surrender himself for the start of his 15-year prison sentence.

The disgraced former Nkobi Group boss, whose corruption and fraud convictions were confirmed by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Monday, had the look of a man who had been hit hard on the head with a stick.

Shaik, 48, blinked back tears, averted his eyes and mumbled a few comments to reporters as he milled around, clearly out of his depth as his brother Mo and friend Costa Dranias sorted out his paperwork with police officials.

Usually outspoken, brash and arrogant, Shaik was the picture of timidity and remorse, apologising for having given reporters a “hard time”.

“I’m walking my Lord’s path,” he said as he was led towards the holding cells at the back of the court.

From the look of utter dejection on his face, and his seeming inability to process what was going on around him, it was clear that Shaik had not believed until the very end that he would be going to prison for 15 years.

Wearing blue jeans, a white T- shirt, black takkies and sunglasses, Shaik seemed to be battling to take in what was going on around him as he clutched wife Zuleika’s hand.

Dranias, Mo, and his other brothers, Yunus and Chippy, took control of Shaik’s final moments as a free man, fending off reporters and cameramen, exuding menace and aggression like too much heavy cologne.

For them, Shaik was a man who was being sent to jail unfairly for helping out his friend and comrade, Jacob Zuma.

A statement released by Mo, who refused to speak to the media on Thursday, reflects this thinking and more than a little arrogance.

“We will forever believe in Schabir’s innocence and the fact that his actions ... were out of love, loyalty and comradeship,” it read.

“The past few years ... have been extremely harrowing for us ... Now that Schabir has been incarcerated, we appeal to the media to allow us to grieve the tragedy that has befallen our family,” it reads.

Touching words, a far cry from those of the Supreme Court of Appeal, chaired by Judge Craig Howie, in its judgment on Shaik’s appeal against his two corruption convictions and his effective 15-year jail sentence.

“Shaik subverted his relationship with Zuma into a relationship of patronage designed to achieve power and wealth.

“He was brazen and often behaved aggressively and threateningly, using Zuma’s name to intimidate people, and particularly potential business partners,” Howie wrote in the unanimous judgment.

“He sought out people eager to exploit Zuma’s power and influence, and colluded with them to achieve mutually beneficial results.”

Despite Shaik’s apparent humility as he left the free world behind, it was his arrogance in using Zuma’s name and influence to make money which saw him take his lonely walk on Thursday.

The court found that Shaik used Zuma’s name at will ­ and with great arrogance, battering opponents with the threat of Zuma’s intervention; cajoling reluctant potential partners with the promise of Zuma becoming the grease for the wheels of their multimillion- rand dealings.

Shaik’s lifestyle, too, reflected this arrogance: the in-your-face rampant consumerism; the bullying, argumentative approach to the media; the black-suited entourage of muscle at every court appearance; the fleet of sleek black BMWs; and the disdain for the law and for those entrusted with his prosecution.

Early on in the investigation into Shaik, in 2002, he was approached by Scorpions investigators with the offer of a plea bargain in return for a full confession.

According to investigators, he rejected this offer with both arrogance and contempt, believing, in their eyes, that his level of political protection *1 was such that he would never be convicted.

He was wrong.

With acknowledgements to Paddy Harper and Sunday Times.

*1      Top Cover - In the Arms Deal, Zuma was top cover to both Schabir and Chippy.

Chippy was also allowed to effectively act with a line manager, so he reported effectively to Joe Modise, the Minister of Defence, who was also top cover.