Judge never implicated Zuma in Shaik trial

Kingdom Mabuza and Sapa

Kingdom Mabuza and Sapa

Judge Hilary Squires, who sentenced Schabir Shaik to 15 years in prison for corruption, says he never found a "generally corrupt relationship" between the ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma and the businessman.

The supreme court of appeal attributed the phrase to Squires in its judgement upholding Shaik's corruption and fraud conviction last week.

Squires wrote a letter to The Weekender, a Business Day publication, pointing out the error.

Supporters of Zuma have welcomed Squires' letter, which they have interpreted to mean that Squires exonerates Zuma from corruption.

Whether Squires' letter, which sought to clarify that he had never made the utterance, will change the state's case or not will become clear when the director of the Public Prosecuting Authority, Vusi Pikoli, announces his decision.

In the messages of support on the Friends of JZ website, Zuma supporters questioned Squires' long silence on the matter. They believe that had he spoken earlier Zuma would not have been dismissed as deputy president of the country.

NPA spokesman Makhosini Nkosi refused to comment.

In his letter Squires said it had not been possible during the trial to make any finding on the nature of the relationship between Zuma and Shaik, since Zuma was not on trial.

Squires said the phrase was used by the prosecution and the state had never endorsed the characterisation of the relationship.