‘Thank you, Chippy Shaik’

2014-11-12 09:16

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South African National Defence Force chief of acquisitions during the 1999 arms-deal period, Shamin “Chippy” Shaik, appears to have nothing to fear in light of allegations of corruption, the Seriti Commission of Inquiry has said.

“We should thank you for coming, Mr Shaik. It does appear that you believe in your cause, that you have done nothing wrong,” co-commissioner Thekiso Musi said after Shaik concluded his evidence in Pretoria yesterday.

He said Shaik, now based in Australia, had voluntarily flown to South Africa to assist the inquiry.

“It means you probably are very strong in your conviction that you have a good case to make or that you have nothing to fear.

“We must thank you because your evidence will go a long way in assisting this commission in whatever conclusion it may reach ultimately. We must thank you for your efforts,” said Musi.

Nobody came forward to cross-examine Shaik regarding his involvement in the arms acquisition. He presented his evidence led by the inquiry’s evidence leader Mahlape Sello.

Shaik rubbished allegations that he had solicited bribes from arms suppliers.

“I raise this issue because it has been raised quite often in books and newspapers. There is an allegation that you solicited or caused to be paid from one of the bidders an amount of $3 million,” said Sello.

She said allegations were that the money was for Shaik’s efforts in making sure that the bidder’s proposition to sell arms to South Africa was successful.

Shaik responded: “I solicited no such offer, nor did I receive any such money as described in these various allegations.”

Sello gave Shaik an opportunity to deal with allegations made by several book authors – including outspoken arms-deal critics Terry Crawford-Browne, Andrew Feinstein, Paul Holden and Hennie van Vuuren.

Shaik turned down the chance.

“None of these allegations have been proven in this commission. The authors tend to make the allegations in the public domain.”

Later, Musi again encouraged Shaik to tackle the author’s allegations.

“I just want to make a comment, maybe you might change your mind about responding to the allegations made by authors who refused to come and testify.

“If these allegations are put to you and you respond it might be a better scenario in the sense that your evidence will be conclusive on the matter.

“If you do not respond, the allegations remain and may be repeated in the future,” said Musi.

Shaik said he had moved on with his life.

“I have moved on. It’s now 15 years from the time this started. It’s now 12 years plus from the time I left the department. I now reside in Australia,” he said.

He said he had tried his best to cooperate with South Africa’s investigative units.

“My understanding is that these authors will continue writing books. I have moved on with my life. It is difficult to deal with all the negative issues,” he said.

The government acquired, among other hardware, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the South African Air Force, and frigates and submarines for the South African Navy.

Shaik said he left the defence department on “excellent terms”.

“I voluntarily resigned from the department. There have been lots of allegations on why I left. I want to tender in a copy from the South African Soldier magazine dated July 2002 which has a story on my leaving the department on amicable terms.

“The story is headed ‘Man of distinction leaves the department’. Lots of allegations in the media are that I was forced to leave. There was no such issue. I left on excellent terms,” said Shaik.

The commission, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, was appointed by President Jacob Zuma three years ago.

Zuma recently extended the term of the commission until April 30 2015, after which it would be expected to issue a report within a six-month deadline.

Shaik is the brother of Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.

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