One of the homes at the Bryntirion estate. File picture: Sizwe Ndingane

Pretoria - The construction underway at the Bryntirion Estate in Pretoria is part of a “multi-phase master plan”, the public works department said on Thursday.

The plan included the construction of a security fence, an outer boundary fence, entrance gates, and a command centre, the department's director general Mziwonke Dlabantu said in a statement.

The 107 hectare estate incorporates the president's and vice president's official homes, the presidential guest house, and the homes of Cabinet ministers.

Dlabantu was responding to a statement by Democratic Alliance MP Anchen Dreyer that there was an increasing trend by the department of spending public money improperly and wastefully under the guise of “security upgrades”.

“The department must not take the people for granted. We know... that building a R20 million fence, when one already exists, is ridiculous,” Dreyer said.

Dlabantu said the plan was developed in the late 1990s and updated in 2004/2005, and that construction work began in 2007.

“Currently the perimeter fence being erected is the continuation of the project that was signed off in 2005. Work being currently done is the outer boundary fence, which includes the boundary of the estate.”

“The first phase of the boundary fence was erected in 2007, two years before President Jacob Zuma became the president.”

He said the work had to be done in five phases because there were people living on the estate. The current phase was expected to be completed in October, he said.

Dreyer said she would write to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to look into the matter. She said the building of an additional wall as part of security upgrades would cost around R20 million.

“This comes seven years after the construction of the controversial R90 million 'anti-climb, motion-detection security fences' around the complex,” Dreyer said.

“It must be asked why another expensive 'security wall' is needed to protect an already controversial state-of-the-art structure.”

Dreyer said public money should be spent on projects that would improve service delivery, grow the economy, and create jobs.

On March 19, Madonsela released her report on the R246 million security upgrades at Zuma's private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

She said Zuma should have asked questions about the scale and affordability of the project. Her findings included that Zuma unduly benefited from the upgrades and should pay back a portion of the money.

An ad hoc committee has been set up by Parliament to consider Zuma's response to Madonsela's report.