South Africa 23.7.2015 09:45 am

Nkandla tour: MPs leave shocked by ‘rip off’

A view of one of the units of the 21 two-bedroom SA National Defence Force (SANDF) houses located outside the perimeter of President Jacob Zuma's private home in Nkandla, as posted to Twitter, 22 July 2015, by Rahima Essop of Eyewitness News. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN

A view of one of the units of the 21 two-bedroom SA National Defence Force (SANDF) houses located outside the perimeter of President Jacob Zuma's private home in Nkandla, as posted to Twitter, 22 July 2015, by Rahima Essop of Eyewitness News. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN

Where did that R249 million of taxpayer’s money go to? That is the lingering question some MPs want answered following their in-loco inspection of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

Parliament’s Nkandla ad hoc committee conducted a visit to the presidential residence yesterday under rainy skies and in dull KwaZulu-Natal weather. Apart from Zuma’s residence, it was found that construction to police and army accommodation displayed shoddy workmanship, members of the committee said.

A largely criticised report by police minister Nathi Nhleko stipulates that Zuma did not have to pay back any money for his security upgrades. Nhleko said that of R249 million, the actual security upgrades cost around R70 million. The rest was spent on 21 houses – at almost R6 million each – for members of the SA National Defence Force and police.

But upon inspection, DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said it became clear taxpayers were “completely ripped off”. “There was shoddy construction and the chalets are not even used,” he said.

A view of one of the units of the 21 two-bedroom SA National Defence Force (SANDF) houses located outside the perimeter of President Jacob Zuma's private home in Nkandla, as posted to Twitter, 22 July 2015, by Rahima Essop of Eyewitness News. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN

A view of one of the units of the 21 two-bedroom SA National Defence Force (SANDF) houses located outside the perimeter of President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla, as posted to Twitter, 22 July 2015, by Rahima Essop of Eyewitness News. Picture: Rahima Essop/EWN

“People who are staying in these (houses) are using foam mattresses on the floor. I even saw a goat (in a vacant house).” Questions needed answering as to why R135m was spent on these unsuitable facilities, he said.

Added to this was “the fact” that these facilities were situated a mere 5m from the perimeter fence. “And when I probed the minister of police, he said those facilities are divorced (from Nkandla), yet I was there and there is a 5m gap to the perimeter fence. For us to believe it’s divorced is a farce.”

Inside the fence however, was a “palatial home of someone who benefited from taxpayers’ money”, according to DA leader Mmusi Maimane. It was clear Zuma unduly benefited from the upgrades, he said. Maimane visited Zuma’s chicken run, cattle kraal, amphitheatre and a “fire pool” (purportedly for fire emergencies).

A man walks past a sand castle, 22 July 2015, with a fire pool which has been created by sand artist Sbu Mzolo from iNanda north of Durban. He ays he named it Nkandla after the visitors who walked past called the castle Nkandla. The sand castle is at the Addington Beach next to uShaka Marine World in Durban. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

A man walks past a sand castle, 22 July 2015, with a fire pool which has been created by sand artist Sbu Mzolo from iNanda north of Durban. He ays he named it Nkandla after the visitors who walked past called the castle Nkandla. The sand castle is at the Addington Beach next to uShaka Marine World in Durban. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

“There is no way those are security issues,” he said. The President is secure,” he said echoing words from Thuli Madonsela’a report. Of the 21 houses Maimane asked: “There were contractors who were overpaid – where did some of that money go?” Upon visiting the school, he said it was clear that the workmanship was poorly done. There was “lavish expenditure” on the clinic, said Maimane, but, it was nothing but an “empty shell”.

“The clinic is heavily secured with bullet-proof windows, but it is non-functional,” he said.

 

 

The Citizen Trail Run 2018

today in print