SIU guns for Zuma's architect

2017-07-29 18:47
Minenhle Makhanya

Minenhle Makhanya

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The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on Monday served President Jacob Zuma’s architect, Minenhle Makhanya,  with court papers that compel him to disclose what evidence he will be tabling before court in an upcoming lawsuit.

The unit is suing the architect for R155m related to the R245m in state money spent on security upgrades at Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla.

Makhanya has 15 days to respond.

Zuma was last year ordered to pay back R7.8m for renovations to his home that were not related to security.

The controversial project brought the scourge of procurement corruption in government to the fore.

Makhanya missed a December deadline to file a discovery affidavit after the SIU filed its own.

The service of discovery affidavit is intended to ensure that no party is “ambushed” when the case comes before a judge, said Advocate Andy Mothibi, the head of the SIU.

“We had filed our discovery affidavit and called on him to do the same, but he failed to do so.

"We then served papers compelling him to provide a response. The matter is still in the early stages.”

Mothibi said Makhanya “failed to tell us what he is going to disclose and now we are forcing him to”.

It is quite a long process, but it is a common one, he said.

Once the preliminary process is concluded, the matter will most likely be set down for trial.

Mothibi said the reopening of a special tribunal to fast-track litigation in cases such as Makhanya’s was “at an advanced stage” as the justice department was already looking into appointing a tribunal president, who would then appoint judges and administrative staff.

The court provided for in the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act had been established, but somehow stopped functioning, he said.

“It is meant to enable the SIU’s cases to be put through the tribunal so that the litigation can be fast-tracked,” he said.

“It will be based in East London, where there is already infrastructure.”

Makhanya’s lawyer, Barnabas Xulu, said his client missed the December deadline because of the sheer volume of papers filed by the SIU. He said they intended to file before the new deadline.

He added that going through the boxes of documents from the SIU was also “expensive”, which was difficult for Makhanya “in circumstances where his finances were severely strained as he is no longer able to get business”.

Xulu also hinted that his client could go public with information in his possession as the issue of confidentiality that restricted him in the past now appeared to be resolved.

Read more on:    siu  |  jacob zuma  |  minenhle makhanya

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