Pretoria - The security upgrade at President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal was essential, a Cabinet minister insisted on Thursday.
Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi told journalists the rural setting in Nkandla posed a security hazard.
“The violent history of this area of KwaZulu-Natal, the fact that the Zuma homestead and family members had previously been attacked on three occasions, and the fact that the president has to conduct government functions, such as receiving official delegations, necessitated major security upgrades.”
Ministers of the justice, crime prevention, and security cluster flanked Nxesi as he released a task team's report on the Nkandla upgrade.
The report was expected to be released earlier in December but was postponed. Cabinet then ordered its release.
The decision was announced after an attack by the African National Congress on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela about the timing of her own report on the over R206 million upgrade.
“[We have] endorsed the recommendations and directed that the report be released to the public,” Cabinet said at the time.
Earlier this year, Nxesi classified the report, saying it would put Zuma's safety at risk if released.
On October 8, The Western Cape High Court ruled that a Democratic Alliance bid for the release of the report was urgent.
DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko approached the court on September 30 to obtain an order compelling the public works department to provide her with a copy of the task team's report.
A few weeks ago, the Mail & Guardian reported that Madonsela had found in her preliminary report that Zuma had misled Parliament, and had benefited substantially from about R20 million worth of work that had nothing to do with security features, including a swimming pool. Madonsela condemned the leak of the report to the newspaper. - Sapa