Serious security questions for Nkandla consultants

2013-12-22 14:01

Government’s own Nkandla security task team report reveals that several of the leading consultants, some of whom are currently working at the Union Buildings and some who have worked on former president Nelson Mandela’s Qunu home, were never cleared by the National Intelligence Agency.

They include lead architect Minenhle Makhanya, who would have been privy to every aspect of the site and who netted a cool R16?million in fees.

This was detailed in the 51-page task team report released by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi on Thursday. The seven firms implicated in the report, who collectively netted R50?million in fees, provided services as varied as security systems, surveying, and civil and electrical engineering.

They would have been given full access to Zuma’s private home and would have intimate knowledge of the property’s design.

One of the companies, E Magubane CC, is currently working at the Union Buildings, and was described by Nxesi as being “a serious concern”.

But owner Elliot Magubane disputed the lack of security, saying it would have been impossible to enter Zuma’s private property without security being aware.

“You can’t just walk into the president’s home. They didn’t discuss whether I had clearance but I assumed they did it as part of the internal process. They took my ID, passport and personal details, including my wife’s details.

“I have done work on the Union Buildings and I had clearance there. I was not aware you needed clearance for every prestige project,” said Magubane.

Another security consultant, Erich Schutte from CA du Toit – which helped draw up the site’s security requirements – said he thought they were all cleared and called the security on the site “controlled” and “pedantic”.

He said he assumed they were cleared as the company had previously worked on Mandela’s Qunu residence.

“There was a designated official who checked the details of every person on site. We complied with every request and took instruction from our client. We would gladly have been subject to a clearance process. We took our brief from both the SAPS and the army,” said Schutte.

The Public Protector claims Makhanya, who owns Minenhle Makhanya Architects, was handed the contract personally by Zuma. When contacted by City Press’ sister paper, The Witness, he responded: “This conversation is over,” and then hung up.

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