The Special Investigating Unit's final report on the Nkandla controversy has placed the blame for the soaring cost of upgrades on his architect Minenhle Makhanya.

Durban - The chairman of the Zulu Royal Household Trust, Judge Jerome Ngwenya, and the royal family said at the weekend they were unaware that President Jacob Zuma’s controversial architect Minenhle Makhanya was involved in the construction of a new palace.

Media reports at the weekend claimed Makhanya had been hired to be part of the reconstruction of KwaNobamba Palace – which would be another of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s palaces.

However, Ngwenya said the trust had nothing to do with the work being done as it was a family project paid for with private funding.

“People who are in a better position to talk about this are the king’s sons and their associates,” said Ngwenya.

However, the king’s spokesman, Prince Mbonisi Zulu, distanced himself from the project.

“I don’t even know at which level this is being discussed,” he said.

In her Nkandla report, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Makhanya had made R16.5 million working on the president’s rural home.

“What is particularly disturbing in this regard is that (meeting) minutes show that Makhanya was often asked to design something more economical and he would come back with something more expensive, even luxurious,” said Madonsela.

KwaNobamba plays an important part in Zulu history as it is believed this was where the nation originated. It was the home of King Shaka’s grandfather, King Jama, and King Shaka’s birthplace.

The palace is in eMakhosini, which is a heritage site. It is where Kings Malandela, Mageba, Ndaba, Jama and Senzangakhona are buried.

Prince Zulu said the king wanted to return to his ancestral land, but declined to say whether the development would become the main palace.

The Mercury