Grand schemes, but humble office

2014-08-13 00:00

THE man behind the grand design of President Jacob Zuma’s palatial Nkandla complex is hardly presenting a lifestyle of opulence.

Minenhle Makhanya, who was paid nearly R18 million from the public purse to upgrade Zuma’s Nkandla home, has a modest home office in Pinetown and works part-time as a pig farmer.

The 42-year-old architect now finds himself in the sights of the graft-busting Special Investigating Unit (SUI) — which has taken the battle to recoup millions in misused state funds to the courts.

The legal challenge comes in the wake of Makhanya landing another multi-million-rand construction project for King Goodwill Zwelithini.

The Minenhle Makhanya and Associates offices are a stone’s throw away from Makhanya’s own modest home.

Through public records The Witness has established Makhanya has varied commercial interests, including a property development company, a consultancy firm and a farm in Richmond where he runs a piggery and reportedly keeps Nguni cattle.

In addition, he has an active communications company, Meseni, and a farming services company, Ntsimizi, listed at the same residential address where his architecture firm is based.

The now embattled architect was previously a business partner with the son of former chief justice Pius Langa. He graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 1997 and has been a registered architect since 1998.

However, his registration from the South African Council of the Architectural Profession had been revoked by the time he landed the Nkandla contract — because he failed to pay his fees.

His latest contract will see him design King Zwelithini’s eighth palace in KwaNobamba near Ulundi, pending approval from the Department of Environmental Affairs as the location is in the eMakhosini Ophathe Heritage Park.

The funding for the project is understood to have been privately sought from business associates of Prince Butho Zwelithini, who has business interests in Equatorial Guinea.

Reports say Makhanya has been officially listed as the project’s architect and will design and lay out the palace.

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