‘Just give me peace of mind...’

Mac Maharaj was summoned by the Scorpions to appear before a section-28 inquiry on June 19 2003. Maharaj’s wife Zarina appeared the following day. Both were questioned by advocate Annemarie Friedmann.

During questioning, Maharaj discussed:

» His close ties to Schabir Shaik, later convicted of corruption and fraud, and tenders obtained by Shaik’s companies from the department of transport;»?Computers installed in the Maharaj home by Shaik;

» How Shaik paid the import duties on a marble table, which was of sentimental value to the Maharaj family; and

» How he wanted to compensate his wife for all the time she had supported him, saying he had been “a kept revolutionary”.

Here are extracts taken from a City Press report titled Inside the Maharaj Interrogation, published on April 1 2007, which show Maharaj as a combative charmer:

Investigator: Mr Maharaj, what are your full names?

Maharaj: Do you want it pronounced or spelled? You are going to have a big time.

Investigator: I want you to spell it, please.

Maharaj: S-a-t-h-a-n-d-r-a-n-a-t-h; second name, R-a-g-u-n-a-n-a-n; surname, M-a-h-a-r-a-j. And I believe that with (protecting) children’s rights, the first clause should be: the right to choose your own name, (because) you (have to) live with it.

(Maharaj tells the investigator he consulted then deputy president Thabo Mbeki on the driving licence tender before awarding it to the Prodiba consortium, of which Shaik had a 33% interest.)

Maharaj: In fact, I went to the deputy president on this matter because I said to him there is going to be a war between the empowerment companies. Both are claiming, in public, that they have the patronage of the ANC, Tebe and Nkobi. So in my discussion with the deputy president, he asks: ‘What do you think should be done?’

(Maharaj is asked if there is anything he’d like to add to his statement.)

Maharaj: Don’t you know enough?

Jesus Christ. Never, man. I mean, you know so much, literally, and, yes, there are so many vaguenesses here.

You want to be suspicious of everything? Don’t ask me for more. It is just going to give you sleepless nights and take you – take us – nowhere.

Just give me peace of mind.

Investigator: Nothing else?

Maharaj: Just give me peace of mind ...

(The following day, Zarina Maharaj is asked about her finances.)

Investigator: You said you expected it from your husband to ... look after the financial statements of Fleischam (the Maharaj family-owned business)?

Mrs Maharaj: Of everything, (including) the mortgage and bond. Basically, I was in a mode of protest. I was in protest against my circumstances. I said: ‘Listen, I have given up my whole life and came back to South Africa. We expected some sense of normality, but you are off to Cape Town for five years.’

The reason I could not go is that I didn’t want to unsettle the children again if we were still only going to see him for two hours a day.

(Zarina Maharaj has difficulty explaining a cheque made out to her husband by Shaik.)

Investigator: Is that your signature?

Mrs Maharaj:
No, that is not my signature.

Investigator: Was it your husband’s signature?

Mrs Maharaj: Ja, it seems to be.

Investigator: So the cheque was made out in the name of your husband and deposited on the same day. Can you remember who received the cheque?

Mrs Maharaj:
I have no idea.

Do you know what the cheque was for? What was the reason for this amount?

Mrs Maharaj: It was paid to ... it was instalments for my work done.

Investigator: How do you know that it was for that purpose?

Mrs Maharaj:
Simply because I was working for Mr Shaik and regularly updating him through discussion, advice and meetings. I would invoice him and expect to be paid, and he would not pay me in one lump sum.

Investigator: Why was it not for your husband?

Mrs Maharaj:
Why would Mr Shaik pay my husband when I am doing work for him? I wish he had just made it all in the name of Fleischam to save us all this hassle.
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