Media wants access to Nkandla hearings

2016-05-27 05:49

Pietermaritzburg – A joint application by Media 24 and Times Media for media access to the disciplinary hearings of various employees of the department of public works relating to the Nkandla upgrades will be heard on Friday at the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

The first disciplinary hearing against public works department officials allegedly implicated in wrongdoing in upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's homestead took place in October 2014.

While permission had been granted for the media to be present at the hearing of senior project manager Jean Rindel, Phillip Masilot the special legal adviser to Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi, had earlier said the media would have to seek permission for the hearings of each of the 12 employees.

In October 2014, permission was granted for the media to attend Rindel's hearing, following an application by the Witness newspaper.

The 12 face charges related to the R246m spent on upgrades to Zuma's private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

Public Servants Association labour relations officer Roshan Lil-Ruthan, who is representing Rindel and a number of others, had said at the time that the charges against Rindel included procurement misconduct, project management misconduct, and supply chain management violations.

All the accused are either involved in project management for the department or are members of the department's regional bid adjudication committee.

According to The Mercury, Rindel is named in both the Special Investigating Unit's (SIU) and the public protector's reports as having hired Zuma's architect Minenhle Makhanya.

The SIU found Zuma was enriched by state-funded improvements to his home, but placed the blame for the project ballooning into "unacceptable extravagance" on Makhanya.

The SIU filed a civil claim for R155.3m against Makhanya in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on 11 August.

He has hired lawyers to contest the matter.

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