Shaik: I still respect Zuma a great deal

Durban businessman and convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik is seen outside the Durban High Court on 26 July 2005. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik tells Stephen Grootes he's reflecting on life, has hope for the country and admires President Jacob Zuma.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma's former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik, has told Eyewitness News he still has huge respect for the president.

Shaik was released from prison on medical parole in March 2009, after doctors said he was in the final stages of a terminal illness.

He also said he expected to take strong medication to control his high-blood pressure for the rest of his life.

Shaik was convicted of fraud and corruption in 2005 - for his financial relationship with Zuma.

The Durban High Court judge said although the president was not on trial, he found his relationship with Shaik to be "generally corrupt".

Shaik said despite all that had happened, he retained his admiration for Zuma.

"I think he is respectful and a man that I think we all admire – particularly myself."

He said while he stood by most of the actions that led to his trial - there were some moments that he did not regret.

“I might have lost my cool a few times."

He apologised to those who found him to come across as “arrogant and disrespectful”.

Shaik said he was spending most of his time “reflecting, reading - and gardening”.

The Durban man says he hopes to one day be allowed back into the business world - “to create jobs”.

Shaik, who is under house arrest while serving the remainder of his 15-year sentence, said he did not however miss being in the headlines.

“It wasn’t a coincidence or an accident that I appeared on the newspapers.”

He said he believed it was the result of his ‘conflicted’ relationships with political leaders.