The late Judge Hilary Squires, who died of a heart attack last week, presided in a number of high profile cases in the Durban High Court, Pietermaritzburg High Court and the Provincial Appeal Court.
The silver haired jurist, 86, was brought out of retirement several years ago by the then judge president of KZN, Vuka Tshabalala, and heard evidence and cross examinations of over 100 witnesses in the fraud and corruption trial of Schabir Shaik.
Shaik, a financial advisor of former President Jacob Zuma, was jailed for 15-years after a three month trial, which was screened live by various TV stations.
Judge Squires in a landmark decision in 1994, acquitted a triple murder accused who the court deemed was psychologically troubled.
The accused, Xerxes Nursingh, charged for hacking his mother, Dr Anuradha Nursingh, 50, and her parents, Gool Nursingh, 75, and Ramlily Nursingh, 69, with an axe, walked free from the Durban High Court after Judge Squires acquitted him.
The triple murder at a plush home in Overport in 1992, stunned the public. While the public was outraged with the verdict, the state decided not to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Advocate Billy Downer, who prosecuted Shaik, said Judge Squires was an astute judge.
“He was very dispassionate, very cool, which is a professional quality. He also treated everyone extraordinarily courteously, including witnesses, accused and counsel.”
Downer said Judge Squires was strict about cellphones in court. “If anyone dared to let their cellphone go off during proceedings, he would have it confiscated for the day.”
Downer said Squires had a sharp legal mind. “Virtually no part of the judgment was criticised by any judge in all the appeals including the Constitutional Court. That says a lot of his legal acumen,” said Downer.
Judge Squires also pointed out that he could not fathom why former president, Jacob Zuma, was not in the dock with Shaik.
Extracts of the Shaik corruption judgment has been used on several occasions by our courts.