A Sunday Tribune journalist has laid assault charges against convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik after he lashed out and slapped her face in a fit of rage yesterday.
Acting on an anonymous tip-off that Shaik was playing at the Papwa Sewgolum golf course in Reservoir Hills yesterday, reporters Amanda Khoza and Charmel Bowman went to the course with a freelance photographer to establish whether he was in breach of his parole.
In March 2009 Shaik, supposedly gravely ill, was released on medical parole after serving two years and four months of his 15-year sentence for bribery and corruption while acting as financial adviser to then ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma.
While Bowman remained at the entrance to the course, Khoza followed a lead from golfers that Shaik had last been seen playing a shot on the sixth hole. She and the photographer headed in that direction.
The two spotted someone who looked very much like Shaik, clad in cargo pants and wearing a hat and a white golfer’s glove. He was accompanied by two other golfers.
At this point, the driver of a golf cart approached the Tribune staffers, asking what their business was. He told them this was a tournament “for disabled people” and that Shaik was not one of these players.
Convinced that Shaik was indeed on the course, they continued to follow the players in question.
Realising one of the players was about to take the shot, Khoza moved behind a tree to ensure she was not in the line of play. The man then walked towards her, telling her to get away from the tree, at which stage she was able to see it was indeed Shaik.
He then said he understood she had been looking for him and demanded to see her business card. Without warning, he grabbed her by the throat and slapped her right cheek.
Khoza shouted to the photographer to take a picture. She was still standing, shocked in disbelief, when Shaik hit her other cheek, shouting, “who sent you, how do I know that you are not a terrorist?”
The other men in the party then went after the photographer, hit him and grabbed his camera.
In an attempt to record this onslaught on the photographer, Khoza whipped out her cellphone. Seeing this, the men chased her, as she ran away screaming for help.
No-one came to her aid.
One of the men, whom she took to be the caddie, shouted as he chased after her. “Come here you black girl, come sit here on the golf cart.”
He demanded her cellphone, threatening her. “You know what I can do to you,” before using foul language. Khoza ran towards Bowman.
Shaik, driving another cart, then arrived. “Sister, what are you doing here? You are invading my privacy,” he said to Bowman.
He denied that he had hit Khoza, and said journalists always lied. He claimed she had been rude to him and had not produced her business card. He informed the two that while they were still in their mothers’ wombs, he had been “fighting for people like you to have rights”.
He asked them if they knew what it was like to have white people in shopping malls spit on one, to come home after two years in prison to an empty house, instead of a wife and child.
Journalists, he said, always claimed he was at different golf courses, but never checked to see whether he was entitled to be there, because it was in free time outside of his parole restrictions.
“Why didn’t you phone my parole officer?” he demanded, mentioning the tensions of having people camped outside his home at 3am.
Shaik phoned his parole officer while talking to Bowman, saying he was allowed to be there.
Identified only as Gouws, the officer said Shaik was allowed free time on Saturdays and Sundays from 2pm to 6pm, and free time during the week.
Shaik pointed out his credentials as an ANC cadre, and the fact that he had flown with presidents.
Although he later became apologetic and wanted to hug Khoza, he did not apologise for his behaviour.
The freelance photographer, who would not be named for fear of victimisation, corroborated Khoza’s statement.
He said Shaik and his friends approached them demanding to know why they were at the golf course. The photographer said Shaik hit Khoza after she had asked if his parole conditions permitted him to play golf.
“He kept asking for our press and business cards and why we were there. He apologised for losing his temper, gave me his number and said he wanted to speak to our editor.
“He offered to drive us back to our car in his golf cart after he saw Amanda sobbing after being chased by his caddy in another golf cart.
“I declined, saying we would rather walk.”
Dianne Kohler Barnard, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Police, questioned how a person with “terminal illness could be playing golf and then physically assault a reporter”.
“How dare he? He escaped serving a single day in prison, faking his illness and when questioned about playing golf and not dying, he has the audacity to assault someone.
“Who does this man think he is?” she asked.
Kohler Barnard said she would raise the matter in Parliament on Tuesday in the presence of the ANC so they knew exactly what Shaik was capable of doing.
Her DA colleague James Selfe, spokesman for correctional services, said any person on parole was under very strict conditions and those included not committing any crime. If you show aggressive behaviour then the expectation is that you have not fulfilled your parole conditions and that either your parole conditions should be reviewed, or you should be returned to jail, he said.
Manelisi Wolela, Department of Correctional Services chief director of communications, said yesterday when contacted to find out what repercussions Shaik faced because he was still on parole: “We cannot comment on what the media is saying, we need to get a report from the police or the court, not from the media.”
When asked what was the general repercussion for any parolee who was charged with assault, Wolela said: “I wouldn’t want to speculate and can’t comment. What else do you want me to say?”
Sunday Tribune editor Philani Mgwaba said: “It’s unacceptable that Mr Shaik, who should know better, should attack a reporter in the course of her duty.
“That Amanda is a young woman makes it even worse. No one is above the law or should be above it, no matter who they are or their friends are. We shall be taking this matter up with the authorities who hopefully will take appropriate action.” - Sunday Tribune