‘State funds were used for Shaik trial'
FORMER president Jacob Zuma used state funds to ensure that his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik did not implicate him during his trial for corruption involving the arms deal.
This is information is contained in court papers filed by the DA in the Pretoria High Court where the party is demanding answers from President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The DA filed the papers on July 17 and Ramaphosa has until Tuesday to respond.
According to the papers, the state paid more than R1 million just to allow Zuma to monitor the proceedings in Schaik’s arms deal scandal.
Out of the R1m, Zuma’s private attorneys were paid almost R80 000 and instructing attorneys more than R30 000 to sit in court for the duration of Shaik’s trial.
The decision to pay was made despite the fact that Zuma was not an accused or a state witness in that trial.
The Shaik trial took place in 2005 and during the trial it transpired that the Durban businessman was involved in soliciting a bribe from the French arms company Thomson CSF, as well as corruption involving the payment of R1.2m to Zuma and writing off more than a R1m of Zuma’s unpaid debts.
In June 2005 Shaik was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
All this prompted the DA’s federal executive chairperson, James Selfe, to file an urgent second supplementary founding affidavit demanding answers from Ramaphosa.
In its second supplementary affidavit the DA produced a memorandum dated January 27, 2005, in which state attorneys wrote to the Presidency and then director-general Reverend Frank Chikane for Zuma’s “legal representation in a form of a legal brief in the criminal trial of Mr Schabir Shaik”.
According to documents before the High Court in Pretoria, Advocate Lindi Vilakazi, then-legal and executive services in the Presidency, advised that Zuma’s legal costs be paid by the state because “his (Mr Zuma’s) interests and the interests of the Presidency need to be protected”.
In the memorandum, Vilakazi wrote: “It was the opinion of the chief state law adviser, that the deputy president was entitled to legal assistance by the state when he was required by the national director of public prosecutions to answer certain questions posed to him.
“The chief state law adviser is still of the same opinion that the deputy president is entitled to legal assistance by the state in the current proceedings (Schabir Shaik trial).
Vilakazi further wrote: “It must be pointed out that, to our knowledge, this case is a first of its kind, where a case revolves around allegations regarding the conduct of a person who is neither an accused nor a state witness.
“For that reason, there is no precedent that can be relied upon for guidance,” he said.
He also urged the Presidency to brief its media liaison officers in an anticipated media backlash on such an instruction for counsel in the Shaik matter.
“It is now apparent that the state paid a sum of R1 020 930.40 towards Zuma’s legal costs in the Shaik matter.
“Of this amount, R912 207.85 was paid towards counsel fees and R108 724.56 was paid towards attorneys’ fees.
Further, it is clear from the fax (in the documents) that the attorneys’ fees are the costs of Zuma’s private attorneys, Ms J Mohamed, (who was paid R77 148.98) and Woodhead Bigby & Irving Inc (who was paid R31 573.58,” Selfe said.
The DA demanded that Ramaphosa advise: “On what legal basis did the state pay for the costs of Mr Zuma’s private attorneys? Who took the decision and when was this decision taken?
The DA has also asked President Ramaphosa to explain his decision to use state funds to allow Zuma’s new legal counsel to challenge the state capture findings of the former public protector, advocate Thuli Madonsela.
“This is Mr Zuma’s application to review the remedial action in the public protector’s State of Capture Report No 6 of 2016/17, which was dismissed in the High Court with a personal costs order against Mr Zuma, which order Mr Zuma seeks to appeal.
Selfe latest application came as Ramaphosa had already indicated that he would abide by any decision of the court on Zuma’s legal fees.