Cynics might say they wish Schabir Shaik actually lives long enough to take the witness stand if President Jacob Zuma finally goes on trial on 783 charges of corruption.
Shaik was given medical parole from his 15-year jail sentence for his part in the corruption because he was said to be dying. Death has still not caught up to Shaik nine years after his release, so the odds look good that he will be around to give evidence for the state.
Shaik indicated to the Sunday Tribune this week that he was prepared to be a state witness if the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) requires it after it reinstates the charges against Zuma. The convicted corrupter said, without a trace of irony, that he would be “guided by my conscience” in giving evidence.
He also said he would not testify “in a vindictive manner”. Quite what he means by that last statement is not clear, although there have been reports in the past that Shaik felt abandoned by Zuma after he was tried and sentenced.
Whether that is true or not, Zuma certainly went on to greater things, in terms of mutually beneficial relationships, when he took up with the Gupta family and the state capture project was launched.
Shaik’s endeavours all those years ago – and which got him sent to jail – seem a bit inconsequential compared with the current mess in the country.
But it is clear that Zuma wants to continue his more than decade-long fight to have the charges withdrawn. He now wants his representations against prosecution to be considered by the NPA. If the trial does go ahead, Zuma will finally get his day in court which, he has said repeatedly, is the only thing he wants.
And then it will be interesting to see the two comrades and friends facing off …