SIU keeps Nkandla documents under lock and key

2014-09-11 11:01

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The Special Investigating Unit has refused to release its final Nkandlagate report and classified documents relating to security measures at President Jacob Zuma’s private home to his architect Minenhle Makhanya’s legal team.

The SIU has, however, made available 23 of 40 documents requested by Makhanya’s lawyer, Barnabas Xulu, to prepare his client’s defence against the SIU’s R155 million Pietermaritzburg High Court claim.

The unit has also declined to provide other documents Xulu had requested on the grounds that they were either “irrelevant’’ to the case, already in Makhanya’s possession or in the possession of the public works department.

Xulu made the request for documents last Thursday and gave the SIU five days to respond, failing which he would make an application to have the case struck off the roll.

The documents, Xulu said in his notice to court, were essential for Makhanya to prepare his defence against the claim, which stems from the SIU’s probe into the Nkandla debacle.

The SIU argued in its initial notice to court that Makhanya had been illegally appointed by the public works department. The unit claimed that Makhanya had been responsible for driving up project costs by R155 million through overdesign, overpayment and payment for work that was never carried out, and claimed that amount back from him on behalf of the state.

The public works department, which made the payments to contractors appointed by Makhanya, is the second respondent in the matter because of his allegedly illegal appointment and an alleged failure to exercise proper control over the security upgrade at the president’s Nxamalala village home.

In yesterday’s filing notice, SIU attorney Ashish Gosai said the unit would not make available South African Police Service and South African National Defence Force security assessments conducted on the president’s home because they were classified documents.

They could not be made available until they were declassified, but were “not relevant’’ to enable Makhanya to read the particulars of the state’s claim.

Gosai said that the SIU had handed its final report to Zuma and was “not in a position’’ to make it available to Makhanya.

However, the full report was “not relevant to the issues which are likely to arise in the proceedings’’.

Xulu said that he would be consulting with Makhanya as to what action to take next.

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