Cape Town – The Ghost of jailed businessman Schabir Shaik is still hanging over the department of transport’s credit card-sized driving licence system, after it emerged at a parliamentary committee that the state tender board had rejected changes to the ownership of Prodiba, the company that prvides the service.

It emerged that Face Technologies, a subsidiary of state-owned arivia.kom, had bought Shaik’s shareholding in the company contracted to provide the service for an undisclosed sum.

Questions from Jeremy Cronin, the ANC MP and chairman of the transport portfolio committee, and his opposition counterpart, Stuart Farrow, about details of the purchase did not elicit a response from the transport department last week. It is not known when the purchase took place.

Chief financial officer Dan Pretorius told the committee that in August the tender board had considered such matters as the ownership and directorships of the companies involved in Prodiba – in which Shaik’s company had previously held a minority share.

This was after Face Technologies bought Kobitech’s interest in Prodiba earlier this year. Prodiba won the contract in 1996 to provide the licences to the public.

Mo Shaik, who has taken over the management of his brother’s businesses, including Kobitech, since Schabir was jailed for corruption, was not available for comment. He was quoted previously as confirming that Kobitech’s interest had been sold at a loss. He did not provide a sale figure.

However, in September 1996, when the tender board granted the licence to Image Database Technologies, it was described as a member of the state-owned Denel group of companies.

There was a 24.95 percent shareholding by a subsidiary of the French company Thomson-CSF, called Idmatics.

There was also a 24.9 percent shareholding by Nkobi Holdings, the holding company of Kobitech.

The estimated contract value amounted to R264 million over a production period of five years. That contract was renewed in 2002.

Pretorius told the committee that Prodiba had appealed the tender board’s ruling. The ruling had not yet been told to the transport department.