Zuma's friend dealt R15m blow after shopping centre fire

2016-06-06 17:39


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Mbombela - A shopping complex belonging to prominent Mpumalanga businesswoman Nora Fakude-Nkuna, who is also a friend of President Jacob Zuma, suffered damage amounting to about R15m when parts of it caught fire over the weekend.

Centre spokesperson Oupa Pilane said eight of the 54 shops at Dayizenza Shopping Centre, in Mahushu between Hazyview and White River, were affected when the fire broke out on Saturday night.

"One bank was affected... Amongst others was Hanan Traders, Debonairs Pizza, KFC, Markham, Habib, Total Sport, Capitec, Legit, Edgars Active and Identity... two shops were gutted completely," said Pilane on Monday.

During the official opening of the centre last year, Zuma told the public that his and Fakude-Nkuna's relationship was that of anti-apartheid struggle comrades.

His official attendance at the opening was questioned by Economic Freedom Fighters leaders in Mpumalanga, who pointed to rumours that Zuma had a romantic relationship with Fakude-Nkuna.

At the time, Fakude-Nkuna admitted that Zuma had visited her family before, but rubbished claims that they were in a romantic relationship.

She said Zuma had a right to visit any family, anywhere in the country.

Paid for Nkandla design

"Everybody knows that the president's wives are seen with him during the day. Why would I not to be seen in public with him if we were dating?" she had asked.

Fakude-Nkuna is also credited with being the first person to pay for the design of Zuma's controversial Nkandla homestead back in 2000.

Her shopping centre has created jobs in the rural Mahushu area, where she grew up as an impoverished child.

Pilane added that the centre was currently closed for safety reasons. He estimated that losses due to the fire could total R15m, including damage to the building and stock and lost sales while the complex was closed.

The exact cause of the fire was still unclear, he said.

"From what we have heard from the calls we got, was that it started in one of the shops where there was smoke," he said.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  fires

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