Madiba-Zuma’s palace on the hill

By JEFF WICKS Time of article published Dec 16, 2012

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A Durban North mansion, purchased last year by Thobeka Madiba, President Jacob Zuma’s third wife, has stood unoccupied for months after renovations to the opulent hilltop manor stalled.

The palatial Monteith Place home, on sprawling grounds that boast a tennis court and a swimming pool, has had large sections of its roof removed to allow for extensions to the already expansive home. Rubble and refuse from uncompleted renovations to the five-bedroomed house are piled high in the driveway.

Registered in the name of the Madiba Family Trust, of which Madiba is a trustee, the home was sold by former Springbok rugby captain Gary Teichmann in March last year for R8.8 million and transferred in August 2011.

Publicly available documents show that 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 would have had to furnish nearly R1.5m to apply for a bond. Monthly repayments calculated at an interest rate of 8.5 percent would cost more than R70 000 a month over 20 years.

It is unclear where the funds for bond repayments and renovations originated, with Madiba insisting her “private home” is paid for by her and her family.

Madiba is a director of five close corporations, one of which is her Thobeka Madiba-Zuma Foundation.

According to a neighbour, who would not be named, renovations on the property started in March this year.

“Alterations commenced after the property was sold, and no one has ever moved in. It looks as though contractors started to extend the house, and portions of the tiled roof were taken off.

“All of a sudden the work stopped, and it has been standing like that for ages,” he said.

“Water pours through the roof because the plastic sheeting meant to prevent this is inadequate. Weeds flourish and junk is piled high.

“The wiring from the electric fence is damaged and hangs all over the place,” he added.

Following enquiries made by our sister paper The Sunday Tribune, new building contractors started repairing the roof.

When questioned, Madiba insisted enquiries about her “private home” were an invasion of her privacy.

“The circumstances relating to my private home are not matters which should be reported on or can be said to be in the public interest, given that the property was not acquired with public funds, nor has the state played any role,” she said in a written response.

“I have no doubt that information giving rise to your questions is for the purpose of trying to cause embarrassment to myself, and indirectly to my husband, by implying that either he or his family members are using state funds to acquire and renovate their properties,” she added.

“I do not permanently reside in any of the official presidential residences. I live in my own apartment which my family and I have outgrown.”

Madiba has one child with the president, but is also believed to care for another child fathered by Zuma in a relationship out of wedlock.

“The renovations were halted in order to obtain required planning approval, including heritage approval, given that the home is more than 60 years old.

“They (renovations) do not entail the expansion of the home. They follow recommendations by various professionals to cater for my family’s circumstances,” she insisted.

According to court records, the trust was founded by Madiba in February 2011, a month before the purchase of the property. The beneficiary of the trust is her five-year-old daughter, Nqobile Zuma.

Michael Hulley, Jacob Zuma’s lawyer, and Faith Ntombela are the other listed trustees.

Ntombela, an employee of the Ithala Development Bank, shared directorships with Madiba in three companies, namely Lavender Sky Investments 25, Vautrade and Glenlyn Investments. - Sunday Independent

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