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newsSowetan reports that “How much do you want to go away?” was a question that retired Constitutional Court judge Zak Yacoob repeatedly asked the axed director of the KZN Blind and Deaf Society to persuade her to drop her case at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Yacoob – who is the society’s president – tells Shamilla Surjoo to record their telephonic conversation so that it can go “all over the internet”.

Sowetan’s sister publication, TimesLIVE is in possession of the recording, which has been confirmed by both parties. Yacoob called Surjoo on March 1 to discuss her CCMA challenge following her dismissal for gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duties and loss of trust after a financial officer allegedly transferred R12m into her personal accounts.

While Surjoo, who is legally blind, was not implicated in the fraud and claimed to have blown the whistle on the financial officer, an independent disciplinary committee dismissed her on the grounds that it had occurred under her watch. This led to Surjoo lodging a complaint with the CCMA in order to be reinstated.

When Yacoob asked her during the call how much money she required to “go away”, Surjoo replied that she could not be bought.  Yacoob said:  “I am disgusted that I trusted you, so now, how much do you want to go away? Please man.”

Surjoo referred Yacoob to her lawyer. “I don’t want to talk to your lawyer, I am talking to you. So tell me, how much do you want?” he asked again.

Yacoob went on to send Surjoo text messages asking her again to “name the amount”. He offered to pay it from his personal bank account. Three days later, on March 4, Yacoob sent a letter of apology to Surjoo via her attorney. Yacoob said that he could not comment on the recording, text messages or his offer to pay Surjoo to drop her CCMA case.

The original of this report by Nivashni Nair appeared on page 2 of Sowetan of 14 March 2019

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