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Schabir Shaik is one very interesting individual in the South African politics. The politician and businessman has managed to get himself into different kinds of troubles at different times.

Schabir Shaik

Schabir Shaik was born in South Africa, into a family of Indian decent.  He has five brothers, most of whom later worked for the government.

Shabir and three of his brothers; Yunis, Mo and Chippy were in some ways active during the apartheid period. They were credited to have formed the Mandla Judson Khuzwayo (MJK) unit of ANC, to build support for the party amongst civic organisations and trade unions.

Apart from his business, Shaik became very popular for his closeness to Jacob Zuma since from the 1990s, and the controversies that would trail his life.

Shaik’s friendship with with Jacob Zuma stretched the time when both men were in ANC. Their closeness was solidified with Shaik becoming the financial benefactor of Zuma who returned from exile in Mozambique and attempted to make his place in the party.

Professional Life

  • Founder Nkobi Holdings (1995)
  • Director Nkobi Holdings (1995 to 2005)
  • Director Nkobi Investments (1995 to 2005)
  • Director Thomson CSF Holdings South Africa (1996 to 1999)
  • Director Thomson CSF Ltd (1996 to 2009)
  • Director African Defence Systems (1999 to 2005)


Sheik was tried for corruption in relation to arms deal in 2004. The trial has been described as one of the most dramatic court event of the post apartheid South Africa.

Events leading to the trial started back with two influences. First was Saik’s relationship with Zuma, whom he still claims knows nothing about the deal. The second was with Shaik’s brother, Chippy, who was with the Department of Defence in charge of arms acquisition.

Next Shaik’s Nkobi holdings joined a French company, Thomson-CSF, which was an international arms company to pave way for the arms deal that was to surely come.

In 1999, the arms deal was done and sealed. The deal was of the purchase of weaponry of 4.8 Billion US Dollars.

In 2001, Shaik, who served as Zuma’s financial adviser was arrested for possession of secret documents. The documents had record of some illegal dealings with Zuma in relation to the arms deal. In 2005 his trial began when he was charged with corruption, and fraud. The allegations were that he paid zuba R1.2 million in bribe for illegal favors; that he cancelled over R1 million debts Zuma got from Nkobi Holdings; and that he solicited bribe for Zuma, from the French arms company, Thomson.

In 2005, Shaik was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 2007, he lost his appeal to have the ruling set aside. Shaik was not however the only one that took the fall as Zuma as well lost his seat as the vice president.

After serving 28 months of his 15 years prison sentence, Schabir was released on medical grounds. He got the parole as a result of what was described as terminal illness.

Although he was jailed for some illegal dealings which involved the then vice president, and present president of South Africa Jacob Zuma, Shabir has always insisted that Zuma was innocent in the whole deal. Recently, he made known his readiness to appear in court to testify for the president if any case is brought up.

Other Controversies

Since before his conviction, Shaik has managed in an unknown way, to attract controversies.

As early as 1990, records have it that he was caught cheating in an engineering exam. That got him out of school for 12 months. He would later claim to have gotten a masters degree from ML Sutan Tecnikon in Durban where he was barred for 12 months for cheating. The institution however would not know how he got the masters.

In 1995, he got into a mild controversy when he began a business, Nkobi Holdings. He was greatly criticized at the time for starting a business with the name of ANC’s late treasurer, Thomas Nkobi without the permission of the family of the late ANC man consenting.

 After his release, in 2011, it was claimed by Amanda Khoza, a Sunday Tribune journalist that the man slapped her on each cheek after grabbing her by the throat. Shaik vehemently denied the report claiming that the journalist hit her face in an altercation.

Other minor incidents include him allegedly slapping and punching a man after mosque during an argument over parking space, and another allegation of assaulting a caddie in 2013. In 2015, he threatened a journalist that he would headbutt him and kick his genitals.

Shortly after his controversial release from parole, Schabir Shaik tried buying a house of 10 million Rand.

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