Zuma feels the sting of the Scorpions
The Scorpions swooped on former deputy president Jacob Zuma's luxury home at 6am on Thursday, as well as on Schabir Shaik's home in Durban and other premises around the country in a massive raid.
The Scorpions had warrants related to the case of the forthcoming State vs Jacob Zuma case and said they were looking for faxes, records of gifts, correspondence - in short, any material that might relate to the trial of Zuma on charges of corruption.
Raids were also conducted on the Pretoria home and offices of Pierre Moynot, managing director of Thint - the African arm of Thomson International - the arms dealer found by the Durban court to have been involved in Schaik's attempt to arrange a bribe for Zuma. Also raided on Thursday morning was the offices of Mike Hulley, Zuma's Durban attorney.
Hulley confirmed that the Johannesburg residence of Zuma and the offices of his attorney in Durban were searched by the Scorpions on Thursday morning.
At Shaik's Morningside home, Scorpions officers descended on the property, effectively sealing it off. Journalists estimated there were about nine officers searching for folders and documents. Later in the morning, Shaik's lawyer, Reeves Parsee, arrived at Shaik's home and was admitted to the property. Shaik arrived soon after.
At Shaik's Nkobi Holdings offices on Durban's Victoria Embankment four or five Scorpions officials were present. According to one of the officers, they expected that their search would continue for some time.
Shaik's brother, Mo, confirmed the raid on his brother's home and offices. The raids started at about 6am, he said.
"The lawyers are dealing with it," Mo said.
"Clearly we are upset about this. They may be within the law, but for us there has been a trial and there is a process of appeal and this distracts us from the appeal. There is something very wrong here. You don't charge and then investigate."
Shaik is currently appealing a fraud and corruption conviction relating to his relationship with Zuma.
Hulley said: "Yes, I am able to confirm that there have been various raids. They raided Mr Zuma's residence in Johannesburg and my offices in Durban.
There was certain information that they were looking for in terms of a warrant that they had secured." Hulley was to meet Zuma in Johannesburg at 11am to gather more information.
He also expected to receive an inventory of seized items later in the day. A reporter outside Zuma's home said Zuma was seen briefly walking outside the house at 8 Epping Road, Forest Town, named Idle Winds.
Members the Scorpions were patrolling at the house and would not comment to the large media contingent.
Earlier, four men armed with automatic weapons screeched up to the house in a black Jeep with flashing blue lights and ran up to the gate.
The men cocked their rifles and told members of the Scorpions to put down their guns. They then entered the premises and were later seen arguing with the Scorpions.
Also parked outside the house was a police car marked Presidential Protection Unit.
Zuma was charged with two counts of corruption after Shaik was sentenced to 15 years in jail for fraud and corruption.
There were reports that Zuma's Nkandla traditional homestead in Zululand was also searched but this could not be confirmed.
At Shaik's Morningside residence a group of journalists gathered outside, desperate to get a glimpse of either Shaik or the Scorpions. At his Nkobi offices, Scorpions were tight-lipped but seemed busy raiding the office.
Rumours have also surfaced of an early morning raid at the office of Zuma.
There were also reports that Scorpion investigators had visited the Umhlanga home and Greenwood Park and La Lucia Ridge offices of tycoon businessman Vivian Reddy.
When approached for comment, Reddy denied that any raids had taken place at his home or his offices.
Shaik was sentenced in June this year to 15 years after he was convicted of one count of fraud and two counts of corruption.
A man, who identified himself only as Mr R Shaik answered Schabir Shaik's cellphone this morning. He confirmed that the Scorpions had conducted a raid on Schabir Shaik's home in Durban this morning.
"They were acting on a warrant in respect of a warrant relating to charges brought against the Deputy President (Jacob Zuma). From our side we have concerns about the raid, as you call it. It is obstructive to the legal processes underway.
We are in the process of preparing for an appeal to the High Court against the conviction. Now we have our attorneys and lawyers dealing with this matter while they are executing the warrant," he said. - Daily News Reporters, Sapa