Jani betrayed

By Jeremy Brooks

They were friends - the best any girls could have, until Eugene Terre'Blanche entered their happy firmament. They were flatmates. They spent birthdays together. They wrote to each other. They went on midnight assignments together.

They telephoned each other - sometimes from distances as far apart as Hong Kong and Johannesburg. They stuck together in crises.

Linda Shaw was the "decoy girlfriend" when Jani, dating some celebrity or married man, wanted to put people off the scent.

When Linda fell pregnant, it was Jani who drove her to and from the hospital for an abortion, comforting her in her time of need.

But then Jani, former columnist on the Sunday Times, broke the pact. And Linda, at that time still working for the Sunday Times, exacted revenge - painfully wounding herself at the same time - in the London High Court.

Jani, said Linda, had betrayed her coldly, cut her off and out of her life when stories surrounding her so-called liaison with "neo-Nazi" Eugene Terre'Blanche surfaced.

Linda, in turn, was accused by one of Jani's "contacts" of being a slut, the "open bisexual" who deliberately fell pregnant to ensnare her boyfriend.

What followed, in London's Royal Court of Justice, was a bitter showdown between Channel 4, represented by one of Britain's most feared barristers, George Carman QC, and Jani Allan. Dark secrets were disclosed and old scores viciously settled.

Tears flowed and tempers flared. There were no rules, save for legal niceties, as the two journalists faced each other in Court 14.

Jani was pictured as a neurotic creature, locking herself into her bedroom, hoarding personal letters and trinkets, desperately scheming to marry a man "wealthy or powerful, preferably both".

The result, the tears and recrimination, was harrowing for both women and the spectators witnessing the event.

Linda described how one night she awoke as an AWB "Aquila", one of Terre'Blanche's bodyguards, started removing his clothes in her bedroom. He told her Jani had sent him "because she said I was a whore, and I wouldn't mind having sex with him". She told him to leave her alone, and he left.

Frightened and trembling, she later crept in the dark down the stairs, softly calling Jani's name. When she got no reply, and found the door locked, she looked through the keyhole.

And her evidence of what she saw has filled columns in every British and South African newspaper.

Linda said she saw Jani having sex with "ET", a married man with a child. His "large white naked male bottom was moving up and down as Jani lay on the floor. Two bodyguards looked on in the room," she added.

Linda said that as the affair between Jani and the AWB leader developed, rumours flashed through South Africa's newspaper world.

"I could hardly distinguish between truth and reality. I had no idea what was going on. I was scared for Jani. I was worried about what was going to happen," she said.

Linda, frightened by the intrigue and mystery, left for a long holiday in Hong Kong.

On her return she again tried to make contact. Still spurned, she wrote an angry letter to Jani which was read to a hushed court.

"Great One, since I am no longer rated amongst your list of privileged telephonees, I am now among the rank of your correspondents. I'd like to inquire what I've done to offend you. Allow me only to say how grateful I am for the precious moments of your life granted to me.

"If you think I'm joking, let me say I'm pissed off.

"I thing you've got the most enormous nerve. If this is your definition of friendship, I can't say I'm surprised the list is shorter than you'd like. I think it's time you found out people are not just commodities or doting slaves...

"Don't think I didn't expect this, I'm just a little surprised about the crassness and abruptness with which I was handed, or not handed, my notice of termination. I'm not expecting payment for the few thousand hours of my youth which I gave up in service of your ego.

"Someone said it's unfortunate your vanity exceeds your intelligence. He's right - it's unfortunate. Yours in obedience, Linda."

Linda admitted later that her decision to testify against her friend was made in a moment of extreme anger.

"I did not want to come," she told the court. "I want this over with. I have been pushed too far. Too many people had been damaged on the basis of a lie."

Later when she was recalled to the stand to elaborate on another night when she said she saw ET and Jani "fumbling, caressing and cuddling" in a parked car, she broke down again.

"When is this nightmare going to end? When is it going to finish?"

Mr Justice Potts thanked her for giving evidence. "Great pleasure," snapped Linda as she stormed out of the court.

But it was on that that the nub of Channel 4's successful defence rested. Without Linda's evidence the television station, sued by Jani, would have been unable to prove sexual relations with the AWB leader.

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