Durban - President Jacob Zuma’s third wife, Thobeka Madiba-Zuma, who commissioned renovations to her R8.8 million Durban North home without planning approval from the eThekwini Municipality, is to face rates penalties and might be forced to demolish illegal alterations to the house if her plans are not approved.
Two weeks ago the Sunday Tribune revealed that Madiba-Zuma’s opulent hilltop home, bought from former Springbok rugby captain Gary Teichmann, was being expanded to accommodate Madiba-Zuma and her two children.
The property was bought by the Madiba Family Trust in March last year and was transferred in August. Weeks later, construction crews started extensive renovations.
Madiba-Zuma’s neighbours complained that upgrades to the five-bedroomed home had seen large sections of roof removed and construction waste piling up in the driveway.
Madiba-Zuma said renovations to the house had stalled to obtain planning approval because the structure was more than 60 years old.
She added that the renovations did not entail expansions, but instead “followed recommendations by various professionals to cater for my family’s circumstances”.
However, aerial photographs clearly show extensive expansions to both the north and south-facing sides of the house, including the addition of rooms.
eThekwini Municipality development planning deputy head Musa Mbhele told the Sunday Tribune that renovations had started without the necessary planning approval and work halted at the site only after the building inspectorate served notices on Madiba-Zuma.
“The construction on site was identified as illegal by the building inspector. The owner has 30 days to submit a building plan for consideration,” he said.
“No building may take place on site until the building plan is approved. If construction takes place prior to approval of the building plan, the owner and the contractor may be liable for legal prosecution and further sanctions, such as a rates code change to increase the rates five times the value as a form of penalty for building and occupying a house illegally.”
Mbhele said if Madiba-Zuma continued to flout by-laws the city would take legal action, which could involve a court order to demolish the illegally constructed portions of the house.
Durban North Ratepayers Association chairwoman Irene Reid said the house was an “eyesore” after the renovations stalled early this year.
“It is cases like these we… have rooted out. It is an absolute eyesore. We do not want Durban North to end up looking a terrible state,” she said.
Reid added that Zuma had flouted the municipal by-laws that governed additions to residential properties.
“People these days just do what they want. I wouldn’t be surprised if the municipality is turning a blind eye to this just because she is one of the president’s wives.
“Neighbours and those who are unhappy with how the house looks need to put pressure on Mrs Zuma and submit objections to the municipality until something is done about this,” she said.
Madiba-Zuma could not be reached for comment this week.
According to publicly available documents, two loans from FNB totalling R8.15m were registered to buy the property.
If she paid a 10 percent deposit and additional costs and transfer fees, Madiba-Zuma would have had to furnish nearly R1.5m to apply for the bonds.
Monthly repayments on this bond, calculated at an interest rate of 8.5 percent, would cost more than R70 000 a month over 20 years.
According to court records, the Madiba Family Trust was founded in February last year, one month before the purchase of the Monteith Place property. Madiba-Zuma is the trust’s founder and the beneficiary is listed as her daughter, Nqobile Zuma.
Jacob Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley and Faith Ntombela are the other listed trustees.
Ntombela, an Ithala Development Bank employee, shared directorships with Madiba-Zuma in three companies, namely Lavender Sky Investments 25, Vautrade and Glenlyn Investments.