Shaik and Zuma: From freedom fighters to incarceration

Schabir Shaik at the time of his corruption trial in 2004 outside the Durban High Court. Picture: Sandile Ndlovu

Schabir Shaik at the time of his corruption trial in 2004 outside the Durban High Court. Picture: Sandile Ndlovu

Published Jul 8, 2021


Durban - Former president Jacob Zuma on Wednesday night handing himself to law enforcement authorities for his arrest has evoked memories of the arrest of his one time financial advisor and close friend Schabir Shaik.

Following much protracted speculation on whether Zuma would hand himself over or await to be arrested, the former president of both the ANC and the country eventually opted to cooperate with authorities to hand himself over at the Estcourt Correctional Services Centre.

This brings to an end the saga of Zuma's contempt of court after refusing to obey a Constitutional Court ruling ordering him to appear before the state capture commission.

Some 16 years earlier, Zuma's financial advisor Shaik suffered a similar fate, but instead of 15 months he was sentenced to 15 years behind bars – two terms of 15 years for corruption and one term of three years for fraud. The sentences ran concurrently meaning Shaik was then handed a 15-year prison sentence.

Despite appealing, his appeal was rejected and Shaik would eventually be compelled to hand himself over to begin his prison sentence in November 2006.

However, in March 2009 Zuma approved Shaik's bid to be released on medical parole on the grounds that he was terminally ill and would serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest at his Durban home.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa granted pardons and remissions to 14 500 offenders in December 2019, Shaik was amongst those considered to have served more than 13 years of his sentence and by January 2020, he became a free man.

Now a similar fate has befallen his one time friend, Zuma, as he begins a 15 month prison sentence in Estcourt.

The relationship between Zuma and Shaik dated back to the mid 1990s when between October 25, 1995 and July 1, 2005, Shaik's Nkobi Group and French arms company Thales are alleged to have conspired to bribe Zuma to the alleged tune of R4 million, during Zuma’s tenure as KZN MEC for Economic Affairs and later when he was deputy president of South Africa.

Zuma is alleged to have received the payments in connection with the arms deal of the late 1990s.

When contacted by Independent Media for his thoughts on Zuma handing himself over to Correctional Services authorities and his subsequent imprisonment, Shaik declined to comment.

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Political Bureau