“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.
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 US3 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 co-operate 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.
Government acquired, among other hardware, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the SA Air Force, and frigates and submarines for the SA Navy.
In February 2007, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine reported that German prosecutors were in possession of internal memos from Thyssen detailing meetings where Shaik allegedly demanded payment of US3 million to ensure the success of the German bid for the contract to build South Africa’s four corvettes.
The magazine detailed allegations that Shaik requested the bribe in 1998 and that in 2000, the company apparently deposited the money to a non-existent company in London.
In 2002, Shaik resigned from the public service after an inquiry found that he acted improperly by disclosing confidential information contained in the auditor general’s draft report on the arms deal to his own lawyers.
On Tuesday, 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.
Schabir Shaik was sent to jail in 2006 for facilitating a bribe from French arms company Thomson-CSF. Shaik has since been released on medical parole.
Fana Hlongwane, who served as an arms consultant and adviser to then defence minister Joe Modise,is scheduled to testify when the inquiry resumes on November 24.