Nkandla security shock

2013-12-20 00:00

THE government’s own Nkandla security task team’s report yesterday revealed a litany of security lapses and tender irregularities but has given President Jacob Zuma a clean bill of health.

The Department of Public Works has accepted full responsibility for the over-expenditure and corruption involved in the R206 million upgrade to Zuma’s home.

And shockingly, the state acknowledged that several of the leading consultants, some who are currently working inside the Union Buildings and have worked on former president Nelson Mandela’s Qunu home, were never cleared by the National Intelligence Agency.

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

This was all detailed in a 51-page report released yesterday by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi giving specifics of the security measures paid for by the state and built at President Zuma’s private residence.

Nxesi said he was “painfully aware of systemic weaknesses” in the department, including inadequate management capacity and poor financial controls.

“This provided fertile soil for fraud especially around leases, corruption and collusion in relation to building projects. These weaknesses had previously been reported upon by the public protector, the SIU and the auditor-general.

“In other words, the problems detected in the case of the Nkandla security upgrade were not unique,” said Nxesi.

Among the findings were:

• The president had not used state resources to build or upgrade his personal home, nor did he ask for security installations;

• The security upgrades cost approximately R71 million, while R135 million was spent on operational needs; and

• There were a number of supply chain irregularities in the appointment of service providers, procurement of goods and services, and there may have been over-pricing and collusion.

The seven implicated firms, who collectively netted R50 million in fees, provided services as varied as security systems, surveying and civil and electrical engineering.

This would have given them full access to Zuma’s private home and intricate knowledge of the design of the property.

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

But owner Elliot Magubane disputed this, 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.

Makhanya, the owner of Minenhle Makhanya Architects, who had been named by the public protector as being handed the contract personally by Zuma, said when contacted yesterday, “This conversation is over” and then hung up.

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