Durban - While there has been much fuss about security at President Jacob Zuma’s personal abode at Nkandla, things have fallen apart on that front at his official provincial residence in KwaZulu-Natal.
There is a gaping hole in the 4m-high, multi-million-rand bullet-proof security fence erected in 2009 to beef up security around the historic John L Dube House – former-ly King’s House – in Morningside, Durban.
The fence, part of an installation that was believed to have cost taxpayers R50 million, has been in that state since before Christmas, according to readers who tipped off The Independent on Saturday.
One of the many panels it is made up of has come loose and collapsed beside a clump of bamboo trees on the Eastbourne Road side of the property.
The electric wiring running along the top of the fence has also been damaged.
The special fence, set 10.7m away from the much lower exterior fence, was deemed necessary for Zuma’s safety, according to the Department of Public Works.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj yesterday referred The Independent on Saturday to the department for comment. “It’s not a matter I have to comment on,” he said.
“The Department of Public Works is dealing with the matter,” said a spokesman.
The Safety and Security Department was first asked for comment on Thursday, by e-mail and then phone calls.
Yesterday when the picture above was taken there was no sign of a guard at the section of damaged fence.
DA spokeswoman on Safety and Security, Diane Kohler Barnard, said it appeared that there was no security left at the residence.
“It gives the indication that if the fencing is allowed to collapse, there’s no security. The place could have been broken into and vandalised.
“We don’t know. Certainly, there’s no security left.”
Kohler Barnard went on to say that there should have been a maintenance contract for such a tender.
“Or has a multi-million-rand entity been handed over to Public Works, which has collapsed? We know Public Works doesn’t work.”
She called the investment “a waste of taxpayers’ money”.
Back in 2009, acting director-general of Public Works, Solly Malebye, said renovations and security measures were planned with improvements that had been in the design stage for the past seven years.
“The security fence is a high-security fence; it’s for the protection of the president, the deputy president and all their dignitaries,” he said.
“A high-security system will be built into the fence but details cannot be discussed due to national security.”
John L Dube House, which is on a 5.26ha property, dates back to 1872, according to the website of the Presidency.
“King’s House lived up to its name from the beginning. In 1906 it welcomed its first royal guests when their royal highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and Princess Patricia paid a quick visit to Durban,” read the site.
“On 17 May 2012, President Zuma renamed King’s House Dr John L Dube House, after the highly regarded educationist, journalist and first president of the ruling ANC, Dr John Langalibalele Dube.”
Independent on Saturday