Publication: Independent Online Issued: Date: 2007-05-31 Reporter: Bronwyn Gerretsen

Chippy's Links to Professor Still a Puzzle

 

Publication 

Independent Online

Date

2007-05-31

Reporter

Bronwyn Gerretsen

Web Link

www.iol.co.za

 

Plagiarism allegations against former arms procurement chief Chippy Shaik are still being investigated by the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

One of the questions that remains to be answered is what his professors would gain from allegedly assisting him plagiarise his doctoral thesis.

Also baffling is how Shaik and Professor Viktor Verijenko, the former head of the School of Mechanical Engineering, appeared to be such close friends, particularly because they appeared to have had very little in common.

Shaik was part of a team responsible for negotiating arms deals

Verijenko and Shaik were reported to have been business associates as well as friends, with Shaik filling the role of best man at Verijenko's wedding five years ago.

Another possible link, discussed in various media and academic circles but not confirmed, was Shaik's former position as head of arms procurement for the department of defence and the contract Verijenko entered into in 1999 with the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor).

Armscor spokesperson Bertus Celliers said the contract with Verijenko was for the development of new technology for "smart bolts" that could be used in the safety of critical structures such as aircraft frames and wings.

Armscor is the officially appointed acquisition organisation for the South African department of defence and, with the approval of the minister of defence, renders an acquisition service to other government departments and public entities.

As head of arms procurement, Shaik was part of a team responsible for negotiating arms deals.

'This is a public interest question'

Richard Young, a whistle-blower on the government's controversial R65-billion arms deal, said he had been trying to piece together the circumstances surrounding the "friendship" between Shaik and Verijenko.

"Verijenko is 55-years-old and has only been in South Africa for 16 years. The two move in different social, academic and even geographical circles.

"I guess that Verijenko, through his membership of Advanced Manufacturing Technology Strategy, was put in touch with Chippy," said Young.

Advanced Manufacturing Technology Strategy is a cabinet approved national strategy of the department of science and technology.

Implementation of the strategy focuses on the automotive and aerospace industries, and according to Advanced Manufacturing Technology Strategy's website "relies on dynamic collaboration between industry, academia and science councils".

"A big thing for the likes of Armscor is funding... and the chief of acquisitions at the department of defence was Chippy Shaik," Young said.

However, he conceded those connections were "just suspicions" and he was unable to confirm them.

"It is a reasonable question, to me, to ask why a supervisor would assist a student. This is a public interest question," he said.

Shaik registered for his PhD in November 1996 as a part-time student.

During that time, he was based in Pretoria and served as the head of acquisition from 1997 to 2002.

Verijenko's contract agreement with Armscor was in 1999.

Shaik changed his registration status from that of a part-time to a full-time student in 2002 and submitted his thesis six months later.

Yunus Shaik, Chippy's brother and attorney for both him and Verijenko, said they were not friends but shared a "supervisor/student" relationship *1.

He said the two did not know each other before Shaik registered for his PhD.

This article was originally published on page 6 of The Mercury on May 31, 2007

With acknowledgements to Bronwyn Gerretsen and Independent Online.



*1       And the student would be best man at the supervisor's wedding?

To me, it is a reasonable question to ask. This is a public interest question.