Ministers 'tried to stop Nkandla probe': Court papers

By Drum Digital
13 November 2013

The state made several attempts to halt Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's probe into Nkandla.

The state made several attempts to halt Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's probe into Nkandla, according to court papers.

In papers opposing an urgent application to prevent her from releasing the provisional report, Madonsela she met the ministers of state security, police, and public works on April 22 to discuss the report.

"Resistance to the investigation was very strong at this stage and there were separate attempts by the minister of police, and thereafter collectively by the ministers of police, public works, and state security... to stop the investigation," Madonsela said in an affidavit filed in the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday afternoon.

Madonsela said it was "mooted" that her probe into the R206 million upgrade at President Jacob Zuma's private homestead of Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal, be suspended pending the outcome of an investigation by the Auditor General.

"As recorded, the Auditor General advised my office that he had declined the request by public works at the onset."

She said the public works minister told her on May 31 he had persuaded the AG to conduct an investigation.

"This has not, to my knowledge, materialised, nor has the SIU [Special Investigating Unit] yet been authorised to conduct any investigation," Madonsela said.

"Evidently, it was contemplated that such investigations, had they been initiated, would have reported to the president regarding the contended irregularities at his own private dwelling."

Madonsela said her investigating team was "frustrated and in many instances obstructed" while it was conducting the probe.

"Many of these frustrations are detailed in the executive summary to the provisional report," she said.

"These include only being given sight of certain documents for short periods and in the presence of government officials, and key members of the investigation team being excluded from important meetings."

The state security ministerial cluster sought to interdict Madonsela from releasing her provisional report to affected, implicated, and interested parties for comment.

Madonsela's provisional report was given to the cluster on November 1.

This followed a special request that it have access to the report ahead of all other parties to establish if its contents would compromise Zuma's security. The return date for comment was November 6.

The cluster filed an urgent application on Friday to prevent Madonsela from releasing the report. The High Court in Pretoria postponed the matter to the end of this week.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in a founding affidavit that Zuma's safety would be compromised if Madonsela released the provisional report without state comment.

However, she said the provisional report contained no threats to state security.

"Information and/or annexures which, in my view, could constitute a breach of security were specifically excluded," Madonsela said.

Madonsela said she attached a draft report to a confidential affidavit.

"I consider it critical... to point out that I am constrained by the circumstances to place the report before the court," she said.

Madonsela said the version of the report that was filed would provisionally only serve before the court.

"It is... obviously essential that this court itself be able to adjudge whether any proper basis for the applicants' concerns exist in terms of the content of the provisional report to be disclosed to interested parties."

She said the decision to determine whether the report dealt appropriately with potential security sensitive information was hers.

"The Constitution is clear: no person or organ of state may dictate to, or interfere with, the functioning of my office," she said.

"My decision to place the provisional report before the court must be viewed in this light."

-by Sapa

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