Durban - Judging from the amount of money spent on President Jacob Zuma’s security at his private residence in KwaNxamalala village in Nkandla, it would appear he is at a higher risk than other former heads of state.
This week the Sunday Tribune looked at security upgrades that former presidents F W de Klerk, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki received and how much it cost the state.
In December, Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe released an inter-ministerial task team report on Nkandla that absolved Zuma of all personal responsibility for the upgrades at his private residence in Nkandla.
It was reported that ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said security spending on previous presidents’ private residences were more than double the cost of upgrading Zuma’s residence.
However, the figures and the upgrades tell a different story.
Asked for the cost of security upgrades at previous presidents’ private residences, Phillip Masilo, legal adviser to Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi, said an application for the information must be made.
He said: “The Department of Public Works wishes to state that the task team report did not deal with expenditure of security upgrades at private residences of former presidents. Therefore we are unable to help you with your query.
“To access such information you need to apply to the director-general, who is the information officer in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act. We can’t just make such information available.”
*The only reliable figures on the cost of security upgrades could be sourced from the Mail & Guardian’s Amabhungane team.
FW de Klerk
Former president FW de Klerk said that the state never paid for security upgrades carried out on any of his private properties during his tenure.
Brenda Steyn, De Klerk’s personal assistant, said: “Mr De Klerk wants to emphasise that the state never paid for any facilities on property belonging to him, for him or his family’s use.
“Housing for security guards has also never been built on property belonging to him, and not at his present private residence.”
However between 2007 and 2009 , she said the state paid for the following security details:
* Raising the height of part of an outside wall.
* The installation of electronic equipment and computer screens.
* A guard room on top of the garage, housing the abovementioned computer screens and toilet facilities for guards.
* Smaller items, including bullet-proof glass for two safe rooms and some burglar-proofing.
“When he retired, he bought an apartment and a guard hut was erected on the pavement outside the apartment. He cannot remember whether he or the state paid for the guard hut,” said Steyn.
Security upgrades at Nelson Mandela’s Qunu estate were estimated at R32 million, according to a City Press report.
Spokesman for the Nelson Mandela Foundation Sello Hatang said: “I wouldn’t know what was done or how much it cost – please check with the Presidency.”
According to a Public Works report, the following were billed as security upgrades.
* Security cameras.
* Automatic gates.
* Electrified palisade fence.
* Alarm systems.
In 2006 former president Thabo Mbeki’s retirement home on North Close, Riviera, adjoining Houghton Estate in Johannesburg, made headlines when it emerged that the state was footing the bill for the security upgrades.
A Mail & Guardian investigation found that R12m was spent on the house. At the time the Department of Public Works said the residence was being built by the Mbeki family at their own cost.
Motheo Group construction director Gavin Munro confirmed the state paid for the security elements but could not divulge the exact amount.
Mbeki’s spokesman, Mu-koni Ratshitanga, said the security of serving and former presidents is the responsibility of the South African Police Service. He referred the Sunday Tribune to the Department of Public Works.
Work on the property began in mid-2005 and was completed in October 2006.
This is what the house contains:
* Three bedrooms, each with a bathroom, and a chairlift – which someone in a wheelchair can use to reach an upstairs bedroom.
* Victorian hip bath and a dressing room next to the main bathroom.
* Paving on the driveway between two electric fence-topped walls.
* A guardhouse fitted with bullet-proof glass and security cameras on the right-hand-side between two sets of wrought-iron gates.
* A “safe area” in the house. Walls to that room are four bricks thick with steel reinforcement. There was no secret tunnel.
* There are tiles and parquet floors throughout. All fittings are brass.
* The house was painted “broken white” inside and white outside with stonework on some of the walls.
* It has a small plunge pool.
President Jacob Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla received the most expensive security upgrades.
Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said after the release of the interministerial task team Nkandla report that the security upgrades cost about R71m and about R135m was spent on operational needs and basic facilities that were needed to support the security upgrade and for police and defence force personnel.
The upgrades included:
* Cattle kraal and culvert.
* Relocation of neighbours.
* Guard hut.
* Fire pool.
* Visitors’ waiting room.
* Entrance gate.
* Power generator.
* Chicken run.
* Retaining wall.
* Security control room.
* Underground bunker.