Security at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence needs to be re-evaluated due to the public scrutiny it has come under, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said on Tuesday.
In addition, the cost of the upgrades could still increase as the investigation had forced some of the work to be halted, he told Parliament’s ad hoc committee on Nkandla, in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in Pietermaritzburg.
The committee, which includes members of the ANC, DA, ACDP and NFP, is expected to visit Nkandla on Wednesday. It is studying Nhleko’s report — released on May 28 — in which he said Zuma did not have to repay any of the R246-million spent on so-called security upgrades at Nkandla.
“This is exactly nwhat we are saying — that the security experts must go back to assess the extent of the vulnerability and how the president has bee exposed,” Nhleko said.
“We won’t know how much it will cost before this exercise is done. But [with] the security issue, we will arrive at a different conclusion because of the re-evaluation.”
‘We all know how this is going to play out’
FF Plus Chief Whip Corne Mulder pointed out that public protector Thuli Madonsela had made recommendations for Nhleko to act on.
“We all know how this is going to play out. You came to the conclusion that the president was not liable for the upgrades. The truth, minister, is that your appointment depends on this because you are looking into the same person that appointed you.”
Nhleko replied that Mulder did have a point, but that judges, for example, were also appointed by Zuma and were not expected to make rulings in his favour.
“I think it’s childish and unethical to think that just because you are appointed by someone that you can’t be critical of them. In the report that I have produced, I stated clearly how I came to the conclusions.
“If these features are said to be security, I need to question why they are. That is the exercise we are doing here. The fact is that there is authority in place that said what must be done.
“My oath of office requires me to be honest in terms of my work.”
Nhleko said the amphitheatre and soil retention wall, visitors’ centre, “firepool”, kraal and culvert, were all security features and maintained Zuma did not have to pay for these.
This contradicted Madonsela’s own findings, released in March 2014, that Zuma should pay for those features not related to security, like the pool and the amphitheatre.
Nhleko also told the committee that a kraal in the Nkandla homestead could not be moved due to Zulu culture.
Thus a new animal enclosure that included a culvert and a chicken run had to be built in a remote part of the homestead so the animals would not trigger the motion detector beams, Nhleko explained.
“In Pretoria we had a problem at Mahlamba Ndlopfu [Zuma’s official residence] and the OR Tambo house. We had a problem with cats. The system triggered false alarms and security personnel became despondent because of the false alarms,” he said.
He said they consulted a retired University of KwaZulu-Natal lecturer, a Mr Ntshangase, on whether the kraal, which also houses chickens, could be moved.
“He told us that a kraal was a sacred place, a place where meat is eaten, a place to bury a loved one. He told us that it was rare to move a kraal and you must have an exceptional reason to move a kraal.” – News24