Johannesburg - The cellphones would always be charged and ready, there would be a mini closed-circuit TV control room, places to sleep, and food and medical supplies.
This is what the police had initially planned to put into a safe haven, which was later turned into a bunker, to be built at President Jacob Zuma’s home in Nkandla when the controversial R246m project was started.
All this was put in place to protect the President from possible “political assassination”.
According to a previously top-secret security evaluation document prepared by the SA Police Service (SAPS), the police had from the onset determined that a “safe haven” for the protection of the President and his family was of the utmost importance.
The document has since been declassified and Rapport, City Press’ sister newspaper, has obtained a copy of it.
After a security evaluation in 2009, the police determined that a safe haven suitable to handle high-risk scenarios had to be built for the President. This safe haven later became an underground bunker with an extensive network of tunnels and four elevators at a cost of R19.6m.
On Tuesday, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko explained to the parliamentary ad hoc committee on Nkandla, which was sitting in Pietermaritzburg, how he arrived at his decision that President Zuma was not liable for any costs related to security upgrades at his rural home.
In notes he presented to the committee, Nhleko said the “volatile political situation” in Nkandla played a significant role when it was determined what type of security measures the president would need.
“There has been a growing trend of political assassinations generally in the history of South Africa after apartheid. In the Nkandla municipality, political tensions run high and many have been ascribed to battles around patronage within the ANC and some among opposition parties themselves, as is the case between the Inkatha Freedom Party and the National Freedom Party,” he said.
According to the document, it was decided that extreme security measures were needed to protect the President from possible political assassinations and other life-threatening dangers.
The SAPS determined that the safe heaven would need access points from all three residences at Nkandla, reinforced walls and doors, and windows made of bulletproof material.
Because the president has to be protected in high-risk scenarios, the room also had to be equipped with the following:
. Charged cellphones with emergency numbers saved on them;
. A complete contact list with the numbers of all “relevant role players”;
. The cellphones had to be tested to make sure they picked up a signal;
. A panic button connected to armed response;
. A mini closed-circuit television control room;
. A door that leads outside that can only be opened from inside the room;
. Places to sleep;
. Medical supplies; and
. Food and water.
Someone, however, decided that these recommendations for protection against high-risk threats were not enough.
According to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report, titled Secure in Comfort, the initial cost of the planned safe haven was R457 971 in 2010, but in the end it set taxpayers back almost R20m.
The installation of the four elevators to the bunker alone cost R2m.
Both the Public Protector and the Special Investigating Unit largely attribute the general increase in the cost of the project to Minenhle Makhanya, Zuma’s architect, who Madonsela found had constantly insisted on “more expensive and luxurious” options.