Shaik cracks

2011-06-04 17:43

Convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik is facing a breakdown and has been diagnosed and treated for a mental illness that family and friends believe is fuelling his erratic behaviour– including his claims that he was the victim of a racist assault.

While the Shaik family was reluctant to speak, associates and friends said they feared he was having a mental breakdown. He has been in psychiatric counselling and takes mood stabilisers.

One person City Press spoke to said they would not be surprised if last week’s claimed racist assault at the Papwa Sewgolum golf club in Durban was an invention.

Family and friends said Shaik’s life was in crisis. His business has collapsed, his wife has left the home (though they remain married) and relations within the close Shaik clan are strained.

“He is a man alone in a castle with only a worker and a guard. He lives in a gilded cage, ” said a family member.

People who speak to him think he is living in an altered state of reality. Several who are sympathetic to him said he had grown increasingly aggressive. In addition to receiving psychiatric care he had also been taken to ­imams for religious counselling and had become deeply religious.

Shaik, former financial advisor to President Jacob Zuma and brother to Moe Shaik, the head of the SA Secret Service, was sentenced to 15 years in jail on corruption charges in 2005 but was controversially released on medical parole in 2009 after serving two years and four months of his sentence.

The description of his illness explains the mystery that deepened this week over his claims that he had been assaulted at the golf club.

Shaik claimed he was assaulted by four men at the golf club’s bar after he intervened when the men called the president a “k****r”.

Earlier this year he was alleged to have assaulted a man at a Durban mosque. Charges were never laid. He is being investigated for allegedly assaulting a journalist who approached him for comment at the golf club.

But a City Press reporter who interviewed at least 50 staff and club members, including 30 caddies, the caddy master, five staff at the club’s halfway house, which is part of the clubhouse, two bar staffers, three members of the management team, two security guards and at least a dozen members, could find no corroboration for his claims. The club officially denied the incident had occurred.

Yesterday newspapers quoted another club member, Krish Dudhraj, who claimed to have witnessed the assault on Shaik.

The reports neglected to mention that Dudhraj, a golf partner of Shaik, is also one of the co-leaders of the “Free Shaik” group which campaigns for him.

Speaking to City Press yesterday Dudhraj was less sure of what he had witnessed (see transcription of interview above).

“There were four guys who made a move on him and came towards him and I think they assaulted him,” he said.

He claimed there were other witnesses but would not give their names.

Meanwhile, Aslam Peer, the club’s spokesperson and a member of the management committee, insisted yesterday that the club’s investigation had unearthed no proof of the incident.

“We conducted an extensive investigation into the alleged assault. We spoke with all employees, management, other players and security personnel. There was no assault as described by Shaik,” he told City Press in the week.

When City Press approached him for comment at the entrance to his Durban house Shaik said that police “generals” had called him to ask if he wanted to lay a charge over the alleged incident.

“I will not because I am finished with the hate in this country,” he said. He said he planned to go overseas after he got a “pardon”.

He later denied telling City Press that he planned to leave South Africa.

He then offered to speak to us extensively the next day and invited us to meet him at his home.

“You’ve come all the way from Cape Town so I will speak with you. I will not assault you. You look like someone who can look after themselves,” he said.

On Thursday at the agreed appointment time security staff at Shaik’s house said “the boss” was not in.

A short while later we received an SMS which said: “Further to my legal advice regarding your request for a meeting, I wish to inform you that I am unable to concede to your request. Furthermore, I would appreciate that you respect my wish and stop the harassment and questioning of my ­security guards at my residence, failing which I will consider bringing a peace order against you and your organisation”.

Shortly afterwards we received a phone call from a friendly Shaik, saying he was ­sorry about the SMS.

“There is only one God and God is great. The whole truth will still come out. Come and visit me when you are in Durban again and I will tell you everything. The timing is not right now,” he said.

Later that day he sent another SMS which said: “Everything in life has a timing – the truth itself is governed by time, for if God is truth and God is life then truth has a life of its own, it will never perish, nor can it be suppressed for too long – it always rises to the top.”

Told yesterday about the claims about his mental health Shaik said: “I don’t think I want to continue this conversation.”
Family friend and political luminary Mac Maharaj said the trauma of activist families often led to mental illness.

“We’ve done nothing to say ‘let’s treat it’. We are all in denial. I can name you family after family so ­afflicted,” he said.

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