South Africa 27.2.2015 12:00 pm

Nkandla builder asks for time to prepare case

President Jacob Zuma Nkandla home builder Thandeka Nene leaves the Commercial Crimes Court in Durban after she appeared on charges of fraud and corruption. Phumlani Thabethe. Date 26 February 2015

President Jacob Zuma Nkandla home builder Thandeka Nene leaves the Commercial Crimes Court in Durban after she appeared on charges of fraud and corruption. Phumlani Thabethe. Date 26 February 2015

President Jacob Zuma’s builder, Thandeka Nene, yesterday asked the Durban Commercial Crimes Court to give her time to prepare for the corruption case she is facing.

“The documents are voluminous. We are talking about four lever arch files,” the businessperson’s lawyer, Phyllis Jailall said.

Nene, 42, who made nearly R80 million from the Nkandla security upgrades project through her building company Bonelena is accused of lying about her building experience in documents submitted to the public works department for hospital and school building projects she tendered for in KwaZulu-Natal.

According to the charge sheet prepared by the Hawks, Bonelena won tenders worth more than R100 million as a result of the falsified credentials. The contracts are not linked to the Nkandla security project.

Nene has been charged alongside her husband, Sikhumbuzo, 43, her sister Cynthia Cyndi Mahlalempini, 34, and brother-in-law Jordan Mlamuli Ngubane, who are facing similar charges in relation to another company, Ntshantsha Construction CC, in which Nene is also a director.

The total cost of upgrades at Nkandla was R246 million. Last year, the public protector recommend Zuma pay back some of the costs of non-security upgrades.

For her previous court appearances, Nene stood outside the court for several minutes before proceedings resumed – giving photographers an opportunity to take pictures.

However, yesterday she rushed inside as soon as she arrived.

Dressed in black, Nene appeared relaxed as she chatted with family members shortly before proceedings resumed.

However, she declined to comment about the case when The Citizen approached her.

“My lawyer instructed me not to say anything to the media,” she said. Known for her expensive tastes, Nene has previous convictions for financial misconduct.

In 2013 a Seychelles court found her guilty of attempting to commit R7 billion fraud. She paid a R50 000 fine.

Early this month a Pietermaritzburg-based company, Sharp-air Cooling, brought her before the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

Nene’s company Bonelena had allegedly failed to pay for the supply and installation of air-conditioning units worth R623 084.

Sharp-air Cooling wants Nene’s company liquidated, but the businessperson is opposing the application.

Nene will be back in the Durban Commercial Court on May 13.

 

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