Publication: Pretoria News Date: 2004-10-25 Reporter: Estelle Ellis

R1,3b Arms Deal in Spotlight



Pretoria News

Date 2004-10-25


Estelle Ellis

Web Link


The controversial R1,3-billion arms deal subcontract awarded to a company in which Durban businessman Schabir Shaik's company held an interest is set to come under the spotlight in Shaik's trial this week.

KPMG forensic auditor Johan van der Walt is poised to reveal more of his 250-page report into the goings-on at Shaik's Nkobi group of companies.

The highlights to be put into evidence before court would include: the controversial combat suite contract that was awarded to a consortium in which Nkobi Holdings held an interest; more detail of Nkobi's cashflow problems; a detailed account of the payments made to or on behalf of Deputy President Jacob Zuma; a detailed analysis of Zuma's financial position; and an analysis of Shaik's financial position.

Last week, van der Walt told the court that auditors had found a number of unsigned letters on Nkobi Holdings' computers containing statements, for which no proof could be found.

These included references to Shaik's close links with the ANC, and statements that his company held the majority shareholding in an arms company. van der Walt also said Shaik had made it clear in his correspondence that he believed he could influence government tender procedures.

When the court adjourned on Friday, Judge Hilary Squires told van der Walt that he must "rest his voice" over the weekend as he was going to be "talking all of (this) week".

So far, State witnesses have painted a picture of Shaik coming from the struggle into a democratic South Africa, and building up his Nkobi group of companies - named after ANC treasurer Thomas Nkobi. As a "black economic empowerment company", Nkobi Holdings then joined the fray for lucrative government contracts.

State witnesses and letters discovered by the Scorpions suggest that what Shaik said his firm had to offer was "political connectivity". van der Walt also said there was a link between the first payment made to Zuma and his first efforts to help Nkobi Holdings.

Zuma had been in financial trouble from January 1995. van der Walt said Shaik and Nkobi paid R1,2-million to Zuma between 1995 and September 2002. "We understand that this practice continued after September 2002."

He said that the payments made little business sense.*

With ackowledgements to Estelle Ellis and Pretoria News.

* Other than securing the business in the place - makes sense, but it's still unlawful.