Veil of secrecy over Nkandla as Jacob Zuma comes home to bury younger brother Michael
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Nkandla - There was a veil of secrecy over Nkandla on Thursday morning when former president Jacob Zuma returned home to attend the burial of his late younger brother, Michael, who died almost two weeks ago.
Zuma was returning to his Nkandla home for the first time since he was jailed for 15 months at Estcourt Correction Centre for contempt of the Concourt on July 8.
Zuma started serving his sentence after surrendering himself.
On July 11, his long-bedridden brother, Michael, passed away.
Zuma applied to the Department of Correctional Services to go home on compassionate leave. When his application was approved on Thursday morning he headed home.
While Zuma was home, the Zuma family, led by Edward Zuma and the Umkhonto we Sizwe vets who have been guarding the home since March, increased its surveillance and stop-and-search processes.
By Thursday morning, only a few vehicles and mourners were allowed to pass through the checkpoint set up hundreds of metres from Michael’s home where the funeral was taking place. Michael’s home is nearby Zuma’s Nkandla home.
On Thursday, at around 10am, Zuma’s presidential protection services convoy drove him the short distance to his brother’s home.
A few metres from the home, there was another checkpoint where passing cars were scrutinised before being allowed to proceed through the last stretch of the gravel road.
Among the high-profile mourners at the funeral was KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala who had sent his condolences when news of Michael’s death broke.
Some mourners came in high-end SUVs with Gauteng registration plates and other mourners were driven and escorted in black SUVs with the registrations of KwaZulu-Natal towns like Empangeni (NUF), Eshowe (NES), Krankskop (NKK), Impendle (NIM) and Pietermaritzburg (NP).
During the funeral, there was high police and army visibility across the area. Both security forces had set up a roadblock a few kilometres from the piece of land occupied by the Zumas in Nkandla, searching all passing cars amid expectations that Zuma's supporters would swarm the area and turn the funeral into a political rally to demand his release from prison.
By noon, no supporters were seen near the home.
Police vehicles and officers were seen moving in and out of Michael’s home while others were stationed in front of Zuma’s home, keeping a watchful eye.
As per the centuries-old Nguni tradition, locals, young and old, streamed into Michael’s home. Some of them were carrying fresh wood that will be used inside the grave to prevent the soil from reaching the coffin before they cover the grave.
Other mourners were seen moving into the home carrying goats and other food items, as is done when a fellow villager is mourning and has to be supported with whatever their neighbours can afford.
The Jacob Zuma Foundation on Thursday issued a statement saying the media was not allowed in the precinct of the funeral service, including the burial place.
"The Zuma Family wants to mourn and lay to rest their loved one in privacy. The foundation is requesting you all to please respect the wishes of the family."