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Cape Town - Four households were moved away from President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home despite their initial objections to being shifted off the land holding a family gravesite.
When Public Protector Thuli Madonsela conducted an inspection in loco at Nkandla she was not allowed to visit the families, neighbours of the president whom he was said to have known all his life, because they were still unhappy.
The reasons for the removal, at “enormous cost to the state”, were never properly explained to the public protector, her report said.
The removal was set down for the cost of the SAPS, even though neither of two security assessments had found this to be necessary.
Instead, it was apparently done on the advice of Zuma’s private architect, Minenhle Makhanya, who claimed a straight fence, rather than one meandering around the homes, would offer better security.
Makhanya became, according to the report, the de facto principal agent implementing the Nkandla project on the Public Works Department’s behalf, despite having no security experience or a security clearance.
“During my site visit, Mr Makhanya explained that the perimeter fence could not be built around the dwellings of the affected households as it would have impacted on the security of the fence and the detection systems that had to be installed,” Madonsela wrote in her report.
But motivation documents prepared by private firm R&G Consultants gave the reason for the relocation as being the proximity of the homes to Zuma’s.
“A total of four households were found to be too close to the principal’s homestead when considering safety distances and necessary stand-off distances for potential threats. It was therefore necessary to relocate four households,” according to the documents.
The “extremely poor” families, staying in dilapidated rondavels according to then-deputy public works minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, agreed to move only after they were promised proper buildings.
A suggestion by Bogopane-Zulu that they be provided with new homes under the RDP housing project of the Human Settlements Department was rejected as it was deemed to be too lengthy a process.
Zuma complained during the course of the project it was taking too long to move his neighbours.
“The records of the DPW show that the new structures built for the households included items such as electricity and water installations and connections, sewerage connections, built-in cupboards, roads, fences, paving and a kraal for every household,” Madonsela wrote.
“The total number of buildings that each household consisted of was replaced in each case.”
The total cost of the relocation of the four households, including the demolition of their old houses, amounted to R7 921 517.44.