Publication: The Star Issued: Date: 2004-12-11 Reporter: Estelle Ellis Reporter: Reporter:

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The Star




Estelle Ellis

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"I plead not guilty to all such counts presented to me."
A defiant Schabir Shaik at the beginning of the trial.

"I expect my appearance to be brief."
Hefer Commission showman, Kessie Naidu SC. Charges against his client, French arms company Thomson, were withdrawn.

"This court case is also about arms and a man."
State prosecutor Billy Downer SC, comparing the trial to Virgil's epic poem.

"We will principally be talking about the arms deal."
Downer, despite Judge Hilary Squires making it clear the trial was not to be a commission of inquiry into the arms deal.

"The informal process is often about a perception. Some bidders think it is necessary. Those in power may be involved in the informal process *1."
Downer, on the wheeling and dealing behind closed doors on the arms deal.

"We view corruption as a way of gaining an advantage that someone who is not paying will not have *2."

"You can corrupt a politician by paying him to do something he is paid to do every day."

"Zuma was paid by way of a retainer. He had to work to get this. He had to smooth the way for Nkobi."
Downer, on the relationship between Shaik and Deputy President Jacob Zuma

"Over the years, a close friendship had developed between Zuma and myself, as well as between our respective families."
Schabir Shaik, in explaining that payments to Zuma were made for the sake of friendship

"... During the period that Zuma was an MEC in KwaZulu Natal, my companies tendered for a number of contracts in this province, including for his department. Apart from one contract for the Department of Housing, which fell under an Inkatha Freedom Party MEC, we were unsuccessful with all our tenders."
Shaik, challenging the State to prove where Zuma was supposed to have helped him and his firms.

"There was a degree of influence over Zuma."
The take of Professor John Lennon from Glasgow, Scotland, on the relationship.

Shaik was the "only one person who could get Zuma's signature".

"It was unusual, unfortunate and tragically unforgivable."
Lennon, on the demise of his proposed eco-tourism school in KwaZulu Natal after Shaik threatened to derail it if Nkobi was not chosen as the SA partner.

"I was told they came as a package deal."
Absa private banker John Dwyer on Shaik and Zuma

"At approximately the end of 1996 or the beginning of 1997, Zuma confided in me that he had serious financial problems and that he was considering leaving politics. I was concerned that such a move may adversely affect the relative peace the province was experiencing and I implored him not to leave politics."
Shaik on Zuma

"Shaik was big on political connectivity. It was his thing."
Professor Themba Sono

"I was just grateful to get them."
Landlady Tracy O'Brian (sic - O'Brien), when asked whether she noticed that a number of Shaik's companies issued the cheques with which Zuma's rent was paid.

"It took longer than I expected."
Zuma's close friend and patient creditor Abdool Qadir Mangerah on the time that Shaik took to pay him back the money Zuma owed him.

"I did not charge Zuma any interest. We are not supposed to charge interest. We must help people in need."

"Only prayers for my good health."
Mangerah, when asked by Shaik's counsel, Francois Van Zyl, whether he expected anything in return.

"We will dispute the authenticity of this document."
Downer, on the revolving credit agreement between Shaik and Zuma that Shaik's counsel produced.

"I have no doubt that if objective consideration was applied the president would have no choice but to issue a proclamation."
Judge Willem Heath on President Thabo Mbeki's refusal to allow his investigation of the arms deal.

"We believed the matter was an appropriate one to be referred to the Special Investigations Unit. We were optimistic."
Gerhard Visagie, Heath's deputy

My role was to pass on the information and hope and pray that it will be investigated. I was ostracised, but I did it for the people of the country. I wanted to assist government to root out the few bad apples.
Patricia de Lille, president of the Independent Democrats

"I was fairly alarmed. To get a letter this strongly worded and hostile is intimidating. Also I found it very strange ... Zuma had not been involved in the arms deal. I found it strange that he had developed this interest."
Gavin Woods, an IFP MP and former chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, on a letter from Zuma indicating no need for Judge Heath's investigations unit to be involved.

"The investigation went ahead but it was limited and weakened."

"Hello my brother, hello JZ. Chippy [Shaik's brother and at that time in charge of the defence force's arms acquisition process] is under pressure. We really need your help to land this deal."
What Shaik said in a call to Zuma, according to Singh

"I hope you are not writing this down."
What Shaik said to Singh in a damage-control meeting with Thomson.

"Well, at least I've finally seen it."
Shaik on the controversial fax linking him and Zuma to bribery allegations.

"Lo and behold, between the documents what you grabbed was the handwritten fax."
A sceptical Van Zyl to secretary Susan Delique after she explained that she accidentally grabbed the document when she left the office in a hurry after resigning.

"He (Thetard) was incredibly difficult to work for. He once threw his keys at me."
Secretary Marion Marais about her boss, Alain Thetard, former Thomson director.

"She was very nervous. She smoked 30 to 40 cigarettes during lunch. She said something about her life being in danger."
Thomson's auditor David Read on Delique's demeanour after resigning and discovering that she had the fax.

"But it would not have been regarded as a secret. It is something to be proud of. Why is it not referred to by name in correspondence? Nowhere did I see any indication of something they must be proud of."
Forensic auditor Johan van der Walt on Shaik's explanation that clandestine correspondence referred not to a bribe but to a donation to the Jacob Zuma Education Trust.

"In general there was always enough funds to meet our commitments and enough funds to meet education needs. I have no doubt that people would have approached me (about a donation)."
Trust administrator Gerhardus Pretorius, saying the fund had not been in trouble.

"The fund fell into my alphabet letter."
Absa trust official Theunis Benemere, on how he came to be an administrator of the Jacob Zuma Education Trust.

Confidential secretary spills the beans

"Zuma was quite close to Shaik. They would speak on the phone and he would come to visit."
Shaik's former secretary Bianca Singh

"He said he has to carry a jar of Vaseline because he gets *ed all the time. But it's OK because he gets what he wants and they get what they want."
Singh on what Shaik told her about doing business in the new South Africa

"I don't think Nkobi was a black economic empowerment company. The right idea is not only to put black people on your letterhead without them making a contribution."

He's an auditor who felt like a computer

Apart from spending 16 days in the witness box, forensic auditor Johan van der Walt will also be remembered for his wit, especially when Shaik's counsel cross-examined him about the successive King commissions of inquiry into corporate corruption.

Van Zyl: When did King II come?
Van der Walt: After King I.

... and he was known for sometimes being long-winded:

Van Zyl: Do you have any comment, Mr Van der Walt?
Van der Walt: Not yet, my lord.
Van Zyl: Is that a threat?

But sometimes he turned serious. On the write-off of R1,2-million after Shaik said he trusted his auditors and financial director to handle the company's finances, Van der Walt said:

If I was involved in a company and I owed them R750 000 which suddenly disappeared, I would seriously question the financial statements.

He also said:

Payments made for or on behalf of Zuma sometimes threatened the financial existence of the whole group.

On being confronted with allegations of bias:
Any independent investigator would come to the same opinion.

On being remunerated by the prosecuting authority:
Somebody must pay me for doing my job.

On the last day of his evidence when the stenographer's computer broke down:
The computer feels like me.

His report and its 20 files of supporting evidence intimidated at least one person, Shaik's spin doctor, Dominic Cele:
I know what they do. They give these reports to scare people. Then people plead guilty.

With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis and The Star.

*1 Indeed they were: Mandela, Mbeki, Modise, Masekela, Essop Pahad, Jayendra Naidoo, Shamin Shaikh, Yusuf Surtee (also acting for Mandela), Jurgen Kogl (also acting for Masekela), inter alia.

*2 So much for Section 217 of the Constitution and a system of acquisition that was fair, transparent, equitable, competitive and cost-effective.

Another Puzzle

Does the word "Viva" have an antonym?