How Chippy Shaik’s Taunt Led to a Probe into His PhD
|Jocelyn Maker, Megan Power|
Special investigation by Jocelyn Maker and Megan Power
It was Chippy Shaik’s arrogance
that sparked an investigation into his dodgy thesis.
On prime-time TV he taunted his arch-enemy Dr Richard Young, who was a primary whistleblower on bribery and corruption in SA’s controversial arms deal.
When Young sat in his Cape home overlooking the Indian Ocean on Sunday September 7 2003, watching a TV programme about corruption and bribery in the arms deal on Carte Blanche, he did not expect that Shaik would speak to him directly through the TV camera.
This is what Shaik said to Young, staring into the lens:
“Richard has found a way of making the media feel that there is
this wonderful engineering doctor from Cape Town who’s been raped by this bad
coloured Shaik family.
“Unfortunately, Richard, I’m also an engineering doctor. Unfortunately, Richard, I also spent 15 to 20 years in engineering.”
The former head of procurement for the defence force’s arms deal could
not have imagined that Young would set about digging deep into his engineering
In the deal, which is now estimated to have cost the country almost R65-billion, Young lost out to Thomson-CSF Detexis on supplying the Information Management System that he had developed for the SA Navy’s new Valour-class frigates.
Thomson-CSF is a sister company of African Defence Systems (ADS) of which Chippy Shaik’s fraudster brother Schabir was the BEE partner through his Nkobi Holdings.
It was Young who blew the whistle on Chippy’s conflict of interest due to Shabir’s shareholding in ADS.
Young has a BSc(Eng) in electronic engineering from the University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal), an MSc(Eng) from the University of Cape Town and a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand.
“I had met Chippy face-to-face half a dozen times. I found him very aggressive and to a degree somewhat street-smart, but overall pretty ignorant about technical and military matters and not the slightest bit academic rather a rough diamond.
“It was quite extraordinary being communicated to via the lens of a broadcaster. In some way it was a bit intimidating, but at least it was being made excruciatingly clear by Chippy that I had made a difference in exposing misconduct in the arms deal.
“I was mortified when he brought up the issue of race ... For me [it] had never been anything about race.”
Shaik’s public declaration led Young to track down a copy of the thesis from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s library.
“What struck me was that the three chapters of the main body of the thesis all had a different grammatical style and I immediately concluded that this had to be the result of the contribution of different authors,” said Young.
“ It was clear that all was not well. The giveaways were the large numbers of spelling, typographical and internal referencing errors.
“All of these aspects then triggered a full analytic investigation by me into the correlation of certain keywords in the thesis with journal papers available online.”
He went on: “Almost immediately extensive correlation in content and presentation with several such journal papers was found.
“What became clear early on was that this thesis could not be the own unaided work of the candidate.”
Over about 150 hours, Young reviewed more than a dozen journal papers in full and hundreds of abstracts amounting in all to about 1000 pages.
In e-mail communication with Professor Theodore Tauchert of the University of Kentucky in the US, who was a co-author of several papers used by Shaik, Young was accused of trying to “discredit one or more members of a research team with whom I have collaborated and for whom I have the highest respect”.
Tauchert slammed Young’s queries as unethical and refused to co-operate further.
When the Sunday Times approached Young widely acknowledged as an expert on the arms deal and the Shaik family he was in a unique position to support the newspaper’s findings.
With acknowledgement to Jocelyn Maker, Megan Power and Sunday Times.