Nkandla ‘cover-up’: cops’ spy agency takes over

2013-04-30 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Nkandla cover-up had begun, Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard warned yesterday.

She was speaking after it emerged that the police are handling all queries about the project as a crime intelligence issue.

The police portfolio committee in Parliament will also not be able to discuss the project.

Annelizé van Wyk, the acting chair of the committee, confirmed yesterday that she had received legal advice that any Nkandla-related issue that touches on the police must be referred to the standing committee on intelligence.

The difference between the police and intelligence committees is that the police committee is open, while the intelligence committee meets behind closed doors.

“It’s easy, isn’t it? The oversight of intelligence issues like a gym, an astroturf and a tuckshop goes to a closed committee. That’s the sinister thing,” Kohler Barnard said.

Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin said several weeks ago that the department’s investigation, which had been completed, only looked at “construction issues”.

“That includes the costs of construction, how the tenders were awarded and if the department paid too much.”

He said there were broad questions that were not addressed.

“For example, the building specifications. Why certain things were requested. Those aspects are not the department’s area, rather they fall in the security arena. Our department only looked at construction.”

Zweli Mnisi, a spokesperson for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, said the police department was not investigating any issue related to Nkandla: “There are only two investigations: the one by the Public Works Department and the one by the Public Protector.”

She referred any further queries to the police crime intelligence department.

Public Works has already indicated it does not want to release its report in public. Minister Thulas Nxesi said given the “sensitive nature” of the issue, he had suggested to the Speaker of Parliament that the report be tabled before the “relevant committee that can deal with national security issues”.

That is not acceptable to the DA. “It is the president’s private house and R206 million of taxpayers’ money has been used to build it. The public has the right to know what their money was spent on,” said Kohler Barnard.

Her DA colleague, David Maynier, also said the referral of the issue to the intelligence committee amounts to a cover-up. “That would prevent proper parliamentary oversight. The issue should be dealt with in public by an ad hoc committee,” he said.

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