How Zuma dodged a bullet

2014-09-13 00:00

THE Special Investigating Unit’s report into Nkandla reveals the unit considered a legal claim against the Zuma family and others who had been “enriched” by the R216 million “security upgrade”.

The long-awaited SIU report was tabled in Parliament yesterday and its 245 pages document a litany of scandal relating to the controversial project.

But while the Zuma family and others had been enriched, the SIU had decided to target President Jacob Zuma’s architect Minenhle Makhanya alone with a R155 million damages claim.

The claim against Makhanya has been lodged in the Pietermaritzburg high court and is being contested by the architect.

“It is also implicit from the claims based on the increases in the scope of works that the value of the president’s, or the Zuma family’s, residential complex was enhanced.

“Clearly, to the extent that these claims are well-founded, the president or his family were enriched,” the report said.

The SIU report adds weight to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s finding in her investigation that the president ought to pay up for non-security-related expenses such as the infamous “fire pool”. She instructed the SAPS and Treasury to assist determine how much he owed.

The SIU report said it had considered bringing “separate claims against each of the persons or entities that were enriched” relying on the “principles of unjust enrichment”.

After consulting its lawyers it decided to claim the “full extent of its damages or losses from the person responsible for causing them, namely, Makhanya”.

The report said Makhanya could then attach third parties to his defence “whom he may allege were unjustly enriched”.

“That would ensure that there was one single action, before one judge, in which all versions are set out and challenged.”

The report also recommended disciplinary action for 12 other individuals, including Department of Public Works project managers Sam Mahadeo and Jean Rindel. The SIU said “costs soared so exponentially” during Rindel’s involvement in the project.

The SIU also identifies 10 other Public Works officials who are guilty of “various acts of misconduct”, some of which are criminal offences.

The report also hints that the R216 million bill that taxpayers have settled for the security upgrade may not, in fact, have secured the president.

“… Having regard to what was produced under Makhanya’s stewardship of the project and measuring it against what the security assessment report set out as requirements, in our respectful view, a further evaluation of the security situation by the SAPS be undertaken as soon as possible,” the report noted.

The report includes a cryptic paragraph which says that during the SIU’s on-site inspection at Nkandla the investigating team “noted a number of matters” concerning the upgrades already completed that cannot be mentioned in the report for “security reasons”.

The SIU said these will be set out in a “brief memorandum” for the presidency.

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