Maharaj, Shaik accused of delaying tactics

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Sipho Ngwema on Wednesday accused African National Congress veteran Mac Maharaj and foreign affairs special adviser Mo Shaik of delaying tactics.

The first public hearing of the Hefer commission, appointed to investigate Ngwema’s boss, Bulelani Ngcuka, was adjourned earlier in the day within its first 15 minutes.

This was at the request of Maharaj and Shaik’s advocate, Stephen Joseph, who said he was not yet ready to proceed with opening submissions.

Maharaj and Shaik are reportedly Ngcuka’s main accusers, alleging he may have been a spy for the apartheid government, now out of power for a decade.

Ngwema said afterwards that they had known for some time that they had to be ready to substantiate their charges on Wednesday, yet they could not.

“Now the day of reckoning has come.”

Ngwema added that he and his colleagues wanted to return to the case against Shaik’s brother, Schabir. He faces charges related to bribery and corruption allegations against Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

“The time for sideshows have come to an end,” Ngwema said, referring to the allegations against his director.

By 11am Joseph was still locked in discussions with advocate Marumo Moerane, SC, for Ngcuka and advocate Norman Arendse for Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Penuell Maduna.

The subject was presumably the postponement date for Maharaj and Shaik’s opening submissions to the commission.

Former judge Joos Hefer had earlier indefinitely postponed these representations, saying he would like the postponement date to be in the near future, preferably next week.

Hefer also excused Maharaj and Shaik, who were both present at the hearing on Wednesday morning.

He postponed the rest of the proceedings to Thursday morning.

Moerane and Arendse said they were willing and able to proceed.

Their clients wanted the inquiry finalised as soon as possible.

However, Maharaj and Shaik’s request for postponement were reasonable.

The Hefer commission was set up to investigate a set of allegations against Ngcuka and Maduna, including whether either or both had abused their offices.

Commission secretary John Bacon said journalist Ranjeni Munusamy would be called to testify on Thursday.

She is the author of the newspaper report that triggered the inquiry.

A submission by the South African National Editors Forum’s Raymond Louw on was also on Thursday’s programme.

Both Maharaj, a former transport minister, himself accused of corruption, and Shaik, a former ambassador, were ANC intelligence operatives until 1994. — Sapa

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