Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jacob Zuma still 'not safe' in Nkandla compound

The Special Investigating Unit report on Nkandla recommends that the police evaluate its security situation — and soon.

Fifteen years, well over R200-million and several investigations later, Nkandla is still not secure. President Jacob Zuma’s palatial homestead in rural KwaZulu-Natal is ringed by two fences, has bulletproof glass and a last-resort underground bunker. 

But even as state expenditure at the compound creeps towards a quarter of a billion rand, and even though efforts to secure it now have a history a decade-and-a-half long, Zuma and his family may still not be entirely safe.

Or, at least, they were probably not yet sufficiently safe as of July this year. In August the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) presented its report on Nkandla to Zuma; that report is now before Parliament and the public as a result. 

Buried near the end of the 245-page document is an intentionally cryptic warning based on a visit the unit made to Nkandla in July, after eventually gaining access.

During that visit, the SIU said, “the investigating team noted a number of matters of concern relating to the upgrades that have been effected”. For reasons of security, it said, the details were excluded from the report, but require urgent attention. Measuring the security features against initial threat assessments, the unit said, “a further evaluation of the security situation [by the SA Police Service] should be undertaken as soon as possible”.

The warning was issued even though the SIU said it did not have full and unfettered access to the compound during its one visit and had trouble verifying what had actually been constructed.

Fifth review
If the recommendation for a new review is followed it would be the fifth time since 1999 (when Zuma became deputy president) that the police give formal consideration to security at Nkandla. As deputy to Thabo Mbeki there was apparently little real concern about Zuma’s safety at Nkandla; a 2007 review by the police found that recommendations made in 2004 had seen little done beyond providing fire extinguishers and an intruder alarm.

In 2009, with Zuma installed as president, that changed dramatically. Paralleling the findings of the public protector, the SIU documented a host of government officials who suddenly, and with no clear explanation even under oath, started breaking rules with wild abandon or just made up rules on the spot in order to ram through improvements of “indefensible extravagance”.

The SIU had been tasked with investigating procurement processes, but went much further.

As it explained in its report to Zuma, the law requires it to act to the benefit of the state rather than just stick to the terms of reference it is given by the president — and it considered itself obliged to figure out why so many officials acted in so strange a manner. That took it all the way to the top, and to probe persistent allegations that bureaucrats were told they needed to meet Zuma’s expectations.

Having been so implicated, the SIU sent Zuma a list of 15 detailed questions, including whether he had signed off on landscaping or had been consulted on the colour of a fence. Zuma, the SIU said, responded with a three-page letter, denying he had any undue influence or had expressed any firm views. 

Criminal dockets
That was the end of that particular road for the SIU, which has no authority to cross-examine those in its cross-hairs — but not necessarily the end for the allegations themselves. The unit prepared criminal dockets on three former acting directors general of the department of public works and “disciplinary dockets” on 12 current department employees. Prosecuting those, the SIU said, may unearth the truth.

“In the absence of cross-examination in which the different versions can be tested, we are unable to accept or reject any of the versions [including Zuma’s],” the SIU said. “However, if the disciplinary inquiries or criminal trials are properly prosecuted, the different role players will be subjected to cross-examination and a determination will be made on whose version to accept.”

The courts, if the matter ever reaches them, could well find the job of determining the truth to be complex. One government official explained to the SIU that what may have been interpreted as orders from above had, in fact, been “requests” rather than “instructions”, but that requests from superiors had to be complied with by reason of their origin.

Claim of unjust enrichment could succeed against president

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said it could, technically, claim back money wasted on Nkandla from a number of parties — including President Jacob Zuma and his family.

The unit said the claims it has instituted make it obvious “that the value of the president’s, or the Zuma family’s, residential complex was enhanced”. 

On that basis, a claim of unjust enrichment could succeed against Zuma, as it could against the contractors who built Nkandla.

The SIU believes the most legally sound recovery strategy is to target just one person for all of the wasted money: Zuma’s architect Minenhle Makhanya. 

Hence its civil claim against Makhanya for R155-million, currently under way in the high court in Pietermaritzburg.

But its report leaves the door open for Makhanya to draw Zuma into the court case and also provides a basis for calculating the amount Zuma can hypothetically be held responsible for.

Although public protector Thuli Madonsela held that Zuma should pay a “reasonable percentage” of the Nkandla costs, she declined to calculate the actual amount. 

Zuma has made Police Minister Nathi Nhleko responsible for calculating the actual amount, if any. The SIU provides an accounting of “security” features the state paid for that benefit only Zuma and his family, and that the state had no business paying for. 

These exclude over-designed but genuine security features and the swimming pool, the cattle kraal, and other elements that benefit the Zuma family.

The total Zuma could, hypothetically, be held responsible for is R14.8-million.

  • Although security improvements required only a perimeter road for patrolling, the state built six roads inside the compound. “It needs to be accepted that four of these were necessitated by the security upgrades,” the SIU said. “The other two roads are for the sole use of the private residents.” Cost: R3.6-million
  • Police wanted an air-conditioned emergency bunker, but contractors ended up installing air conditioning in three private houses. Cost: R4-million
  • Some of the security works required subsequent landscaping and rehabilitation of the grounds, but actual landscaping went far beyond that; some 44% of the work done benefited only the Zuma family. Cost: R3.3-million
  • A visitors’ lounge built on the grounds was never requested as a security feature, and seems to serve no such purpose. Cost: R3.9-million
- M&G

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wrangling stymies Nkandla committee

THE special parliamentary ad hoc committee to look into the R246m spending on President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla has still not begun its work, with MPs wrangling over its constitutionality and operational details on Thursday.

Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota withdrew from the committee, saying it had no right to review the work of the public protector. Only a court of law could do that, he said.

"We are being co-opted into violating the constitution," said Mr Lekota.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Mr Zuma had benefited improperly from the spending on Nkandla and should repay some of the money.

Mr Zuma has since forwarded his response on Ms Madonsela’s findings to Parliament.

The ad hoc committee, drawn from all the parties in Parliament, is expected to consider Mr Zuma’s response, the Special Investigative Unit report and the interministerial report on the issue.

The African National Congress has a majority of one in the committee, which is expected to make recommendations to the National Assembly on its findings by the end of next month.

Review of findings

MPs from other parties disagreed with Mr Lekota, saying there was no intention to review the work of the public protector. Rather, the committee would consider Mr Zuma’s response to Ms Madonsela’s findings.

Freedom Front Plus MP Corné Mulder said he would not be part of any committee that was unconstitutional, "but it is not for this committee to review the public protector’s report as that would be outside the law".

Mr Mulder added that the committee "had not been established for that purpose".

Committee chairman Cedric Frolick ruled that it was up to the various political parties to decide on their level of participation in the committee. He urged the members to move on and decide on its programme.

In a separate development, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters revealed, in a written reply to a parliamentary question from Democratic Alliance MP James Masango, that over the past three financial years R229.3m had been spent on roads around Nkandla.

She said the road from Kranskop to Komo Store, known as P15 section one and two, as well as the unsurfaced section of the road from Eshowe to Nkandla, known as P50 section two, had been rebuilt and resurfaced over the past three years.

Both were multiyear projects, Ms Peters said, and construction through the KwaZulu-Natal transport department started in 2003. The construction was complete except for a few "snags" that were being attended to, she said.

What lies behind Grabouw riots?

Grabouw - Reasons for the ongoing violence in the small Western Cape town of Grabouw include lack of service delivery, political interference, and a “third force”.

Service delivery was the most obvious one, according to the Grabouw Civic Organisation (GCO).

A list of demands was handed to Theewaterskloof municipal officials after two protest marches, the first on August 20, and the second on Monday.

Despite heavy rains bringing a semblance of calm and relief, the town was still smouldering on Thursday with reports of at least two houses set alight overnight.

Access to the N2 highway was blocked for three days and there was extensive damage to private and public property. Workers were intimidated and local businesses closed.

Twelve schools in the area were closed in the middle of the preliminary matric exams and more than 5000 pupils were sent home.

The question being asked, however, is whether service delivery is the real reason for the violence.

Theewaterskloof mayor Chris Punt believes there are more sinister political motives behind the protests.

Grabouw is seen as the economic centre of the Theewaterskloof municipality which is made up of seven towns Ä Villiersdorp, Bot River, Caledon/Myddleton, Riviersonderend, Greyton, and Genadendal.

The region is the heart of the country's fruit industry and one of the main contributors to the Western Cape economy.

“We don't deny that there are problems with service delivery,” said Punt.

“We are doing our best with the contributions from the central government and local tax income.”

However, he said African National Congress and SA Communist Party representatives were open about their threat of destabilising the region.

“They are trying to make it ungovernable leading to the 2016

local elections,” Punt claimed.

He was at the Grabouw municipal office to receive a service delivery memorandum on Monday. More than 1000 protesters gathered and the violence erupted soon after.

“I was present when Maurentia Gillion announced unambiguously that the protest was part of the plan to disrupt the region so that the ANC can regain control,” he said, referring to Monday's gathering.

Gillion is the ANC's Overberg MPL and former mayor of the Overberg district municipality, which includes the Theewaterskloof municipality.

GCO chairman John Michels frequently threatened to make the Theewaterskloof municipality uncontrollable, claiming that a lack of service delivery was his motivation.

He has been at the helm of every protest action in Grabouw for several years and has been supported by various other groups in the past, including the Building and Allied Workers Union of SA, and Black Association of the Wine and Spirit Industry during the farm workers' strikes last year.

The latest addition to his support structure is the Ses'Khona

People's Rights Movement, run by ANC Youth League members Andile Lili and Loyiso Nkohla.

“Michels says destabilising the area is his main aim. He knows it is in his power to cause disruption and he has shown in the past that he can do it,” said Punt.

“It is clearly the aim not only of Michels, but of Gillion and the ANC.

“However, they won't succeed and the polling booths will be the final judges,” he said.

GCO representatives and various leaders linked to the protests walked out of an emergency meeting with municipal representatives at the Grabouw police station on Wednesday.

They rejected Punt's argument about the ANC's plans to destabilise the area.

GCO secretary Margaret le Roux said: “He is trying to shy away from the issues of service delivery.”

Zwai Bhangazana, another GCO member and ANC supporter, said:

“There was no sign that our demands for service delivery would be met satisfactorily.”

He speculated this could lead to a continuation of the protests.

“As long as Punt continues to claim that the cause of the unrest is ANC plans for destabilisation there will be no possibility of finding a solution,” Le Roux said.

New faces seen after the meeting and claiming leadership of groups of protesters included a vociferous Christopher Nojoko, Eric Nombakuza, Phezani Booi, and Fikile Mfazwe.

Speaking for the group, Nojoko said: “I am originally from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape and now live in Waterworks. We are local supporters of the ANC and the SACP.”

He said Theewaterskloof municipal representatives were not forthcoming and this would lead to a continuation of the unrest.

Asked why Michels was not at the meeting, Le Roux said he had been missing for two days.

“There have been several threats against his life and we are really scared that he might be lying in a ditch somewhere,” Le Roux said.

The municipality issued a statement after the meeting listing all the grievances in the protest memorandum and detailed answers.

A prominent member of the recently formed Elgin Grabouw Ratepayers and Residents Association (EGRRA) said the organisation was deeply concerned about the violence.

“We are getting no feedback from politicians, police, community safety officials, or the farmers' association,” EGRRA said in a statement.

“Rumours are circulating of deaths, looting, a new school, and the traffic department being burned down and continued violence until Friday or Saturday.

“Workers are being prevented from getting to work and the national road is closed. The only information we are receiving is from the farm watch over the radios.”

The group called on authorities to take control of the situation before more damage was done to the town and its economy.

Another emergency meeting was held at the Grabouw police station late Wednesday afternoon. It was attended by the chairpersons of the community policing forums from Grabouw, Caledon, Greyton, Genadendal, Villiersdorp, and Riviersonderend.

There was some speculation that a “third force”, which nobody could pin down nor take responsibility for, was to blame for the protests.

Unfortunately, there were no GCO representatives or senior police members at the meeting.

An EGRRA member said: “We're getting an 'abandoned' sort of feeling here.”

- Sapa

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Violence erupts after Grabouw meeting

Cape Town - Violence erupted in Grabouw in the Western Cape on Wednesday morning after an unsuccessful meeting to try to end a service delivery protest.

Theewaterskloof municipal officials, Grabouw Civic Organisation (GCO) leaders and representatives of protesting and rioting groups, attended the meeting at the Grabouw police station.

On Monday, protesters marched to the municipal offices in Pineview to hand over a memorandum listing their grievances. Grievances included a lack of housing, poor and expensive electricity supply, and bad roads.

Wednesday's meeting ended with arguments continuing outside the police station. Soon afterwards violence erupted.

Earlier, Grabouw was calm and the N2 was re-opened with a detour through Ou Kaapse Weg. However, it was closed again after cars were stoned.

The first signs of a repetition of violence emerged when a group of more than 100 people gathered at the house of GCO secretary Margaret le Roux.

Le Roux said people threatened to burn her house down if she did not address them.

She left the emergency meeting, fearing for the safety of her adopted son and daughters, aged nine and 10. They were being looked after by her 14-year-old daughter alone at her home.

GCO supporters from surrounding areas came to her house. After she spoke to the two groups police arrived to defuse the situation.

“The group was organised by DA 1/8Democratic Alliance 3/8 supporters who approached close friends with the threat of burning my house,” Le Roux said.

Zwai Bhangazana, also of the GCO and who had been at the forefront of the protests, said the GCO was not satisfied with the outcomes of the emergency meeting.

“There was no sign that our demands for service delivery would be met satisfactorily,” Bhangazana said.

“We will now have to go back and convey this message. They have warned us that they want to continue with the unrest and I have no idea how they will react.”

Theewaterskloof mayor Chris Punt said a list of answers to all the grievances was handed to those at the emergency meeting.

He was accompanied by Theewaterskloof municipal manager Stan Wallace.

Soon after the meeting, cars were stoned in Ou Kaapse Weg and the access from the N2 was closed again.

A group of more than 1000 people then gathered in Hillside attempting to move through Slangpark to reach the N2. Police and the public order protection unit were patrolling the townships to disperse crowds.

By early afternoon they succeeded in preventing rioters from crossing the berm running along Slangpark to barricade the N2.

Smaller groups continued to try to rush onto the N2 to burn tyres.

The sound of rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades being fired was heard continuously, as on Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning the building housing the traffic department's testing facilities was set on fire.

On Tuesday night, windows were shattered at the building of home affairs in Ou Kaapse Weg, and at the Umyezo wama Apile Primary School.

One security company reported that their guards were too scared to come to work, leaving clients without security services.

The Caledon cluster of policing forums, which include the chairpersons of the policing forums of Grabouw, Caledon, Greyton/Genadendal, Villiersdorp and Riviersonderend, all towns in the Theewaterskloof municipality, planned a meeting for Wednesday afternoon at the Grabouw police station to see what they could contribute to find a solution.

- Sapa

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grabouw remains ‘volatile’

Cape Town - Protests continued in Grabouw on Wednesday morning, with a section of the N2 closed to traffic and two government department buildings partially damaged.

On Wednesday morning a section of the N2, at the foot of Sir Lowry’s Pass, was closed for the third day. Later, much of the section of highway was re-opened to traffic.

Provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa said the area remained volatile.

“A section of 2km on the N2 still remains closed. The alternative route for traffic would be travelling Bot Road, through Grabouw and towards Caledon.”

Africa added that the Grabouw area remained tense.

He said community members had planned a meeting with the municipality, the SAPS and the mayor of Grabouw on Wednesday to try to find a solution.

“Since the start of the protest on Monday, 11 people have been arrested. Stone-throwing and placing tree branches in the road is still problematic.”

When the Cape Argus visited Grabouw on Wednesday morning, firefighters had just doused flames at a traffic department building. A burning tyre had allegedly been thrown at a side door, causing the the blaze.

In town, the windows of the Home Affairs building had been shattered.

Large rocks littered some roads and a heavy police presence remained in the area.

Meanwhile, 12 Grabouw schools were closed on Tuesday as violent protests in the town continued. Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said the protests came at a critical time for matrics who should be writing their September mock exams, while primary school pupils were scheduled to start their annual national assessments - which assess their numeracy and literacy skills - on Tuesday.

Around 6 000 pupils had been affected.

The protesters’ grievances include a lack of housing, poor and expensive electricity supply and bad roads.

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato described the rioting, stone-throwing and violence as “organised guerrilla-type tactics”.

Speaking at a section of the N2 that had been closed by police, Plato said he had come to see first-hand what was happening.

“According to our information there are three large groups responsible for the violence in Grabouw and moving in different directions to cause problems,” he told a Sapa correspondent. “This is a headache for the police and causing endless frustration.”

Schäfer said she wanted learning to resume as soon as possible and on Tuesday laid criminal charges at the Cape Town Central Police Station against the executive committee of the ANC Western Cape, John Michels of the Grabouw Civic Organisation, the executive committee of the Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement and its leader Andile Lili, and others.

“In terms of the SA Schools Act it is an offence to prevent people from attending school and we believe that the parties involved are undermining our learners’ constitutional right to education.”

Even if the ANC and Lili were not at the site where the violence was taking place, “the fact that they are making public statements supporting it makes them in my view equally culpable”.

But Lili hit back, accusing Schäfer of “distracting from the real issues”.

“They should be focusing on improving the lives of people in Grabouw and improving the school system but instead they are trying to intimidate us with court cases.”

ANC Western Cape secretary Songezo Mjongile said that instead of running to the police, Schäfer should approach her party leaders in the province “to stop evading their duties” and, together with the affected communities, find amicable solutions for their unhappiness.

“The ANC understands people’s frustration, but does not support the means they use to vent their rage. The ANC says all learners should be in school on time and learning. The ANC also calls on all leaders in Grabouw to tell people to exercise restraint, desist from violence and report all criminal acts in order for the perpetrators to be brought to book.”

Police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said Schäfer’s case docket would be transferred to the police in Grabouw for further investigation.

A motorist in Somerset West, who travelled from Hermanus on Tuesday, said the traffic on the road from Kleinmond was chaotic.

“It is the only road we can use because of the closure at Grabouw. It is taking us hours longer to get to our destination. The road is crowded with trucks,” he said.

Zuma could face R155m Nkandla claim

President Jacob Zuma could be dragged into the R155-million damages claim against his Nkandla architect, Minenhle Makhanya, the Special Investigating Unit’s final report on the scandal reveals.

The SIU has also not cleared Zuma of alleged political interference in the course of the project.

While the SIU has chosen to go after Makhanya alone for the full amount in damages it believes the state suffered through his role in the project, “it would be for Makhanya to seek the joinder or intervention of third parties whom he may allege were unjustly enriched,” the report states, having already noted that Zuma or his family were enriched by increases in the value of the property thanks to the upgrades.

The report says implicit in the six claims the SIU has lodged against Makhanya in the Pietermaritzburg High Court is that “the value of the President’s, or the Zuma family’s, residential complex was enhanced.

“Clearly, to the extent that these claims are well founded, the president or his family were enriched,” the report says.

Explaining its decision to gun for Makhanya alone in its efforts to recoup losses to the state, the SIU says it could have chosen instead to institute separate claims against all of those who were enriched, relying on the principles of unjust enrichment.

But doing so would have allowed it to claim only the extent of the enrichment, as opposed to the full losses suffered by the state, and this could have been a lesser amount.

The route it has chosen puts the onus on Makhanya to identify and seek the joinder of third parties he might claim were unjustly enriched.

Rather than an unwieldy set of separate claims, this strategy would “ensure that there was one single action, before one judge, in which all the versions are set out and challenged”, the report says.

Tabled in Parliament yesterday after Zuma submitted it to Speaker Baleka Mbete on Thursday, the report also reveals that the SIU investigated the possibility of the president having interfered in the course of the project, on which a total R216 million has been spent to date.

This was after he was mentioned by various officials and in documents as having been involved in or having influenced some of the decision-making in the project, particularly in terms of the appointment of Makhanya and other consultants and contractors, as well as in the design and scope of some of the work.

Zuma was asked to respond to these allegations and denied, in a three-page letter to the SIU, that he had put any pressure on officials, other than expressing his frustration with the slow progress of the project and his distaste for the design of the bulletproof windows.

Zuma told the SIU if the officials had “laboured under the impression that the president was the origin of any undue pressure being brought to bear upon them in the discharge of their responsibilities, they were in a position to report such improper conduct”, according to the report.

“The president pointed out that he was not present at any of the meetings at which certain views, opinions and comments were ascribed to him,” the SIU report says.

Former public works minister Geoff Doidge and Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu were also alleged by two officials to have threatened them in trying to force them to appoint certain consultants and contractors, by suggesting they might lose their jobs if their failure to do so endangered Zuma’s life.

Both denied this.

But the SIU report said it was “unable to accept or reject any of the versions” because it didn’t have the power to test them under cross-examination.

This was likely to happen when criminal and disciplinary cases were prosecuted against officials.

It had forwarded evidence to the prosecuting authorities and Public Works Department relating to possible criminal and disciplinary proceedings, and the report says if these are “properly prosecuted, the different role players will be subjected to cross-examination and a determination will be made on whose versions to accept”.

The report has already been forwarded to members of Parliament’s Nkandla ad hoc committee, who will consider it, along with Zuma’s response, the public protector’s report and that of the joint standing committee on intelligence.

The public protector’s report called on Zuma to repay a portion of the costs of non-security aspects of the upgrade, but he said the police minister must decide.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MEC denounces Grabouw ‘guerilla tactics’

Grabouw - Western Cape community safety MEC on Tuesday described the rioting, stone throwing and violence in Grabouw as organised guerrilla-type tactics that were causing the police frustration and made their task of restoring order very difficult.

Speaking at a section of the N2 in Grabouw that had been blocked off by police, Plato said he had decided to visit the area to see first-hand what was happening.

“According to our information there are three large groups responsible for the violence in Grabouw and moving in different directions to cause problems,” he told a Sapa correspondent.

“This is a headache for the police and causing endless frustration.”

He said African National Congress leaders were also at the scene.

Plato spoke to Overberg ANC regional leader, Wilfred Herman, about looking for a solution.

“A meeting will be held at the Grabouw police station later this afternoon to determine exactly what the reasons behind the rioting are.

“I hope we will find a way to end the violence before tonight,” said Plato.

Plato asked Herman to invite John Michels and Margaret le Roux, chairman and secretary of the Grabouw Civic Organisation (GCO) to the meeting.

They were the main organisers of the service delivery protests on Monday.

Michels denied any involvement in the riots.

A police team of negotiators were also ready to attend the meeting.

“I will not necessarily attend as I do not want to be seen to be interfering,” Plato said.

As Plato was speaking, about 30 police officers formed a line along the N2 standing individually at intervals from the Eskom turnoff at Pineview North to a bend just before The Orchards Farm Stall.

Two Nyalas were patrolling the highway.

Rubber bullets and teargas was being fired at regular intervals to prevent stone throwers from returning to the N2.

At one stage a stun grenade was also used.

The SA National Roads Agency Limited's teams of road workers were trying to clear the debris of rock and burning tyres left from the morning's protests.

After the police fought back around 1000 protesters gathered on a hill in the Siteview township not far from the N2.

They were shouting insults at police, throwing stones, chanting, and toy-toying.

Another large group had gathered on a steep hill right next to the N2 close to The Orchards Farm Stall.

They were stoning the police and the Nyalas as they passed on the N2 below them.

Some of them had makeshift plastic shields to defend themselves against the rubber bullets.

A motorist in Somerset West who travelled from Hermanus said the traffic on the road from Kleinmond was chaotic.

“It is the only road we can use because of the closure at Grabouw.

“It is taking us hours longer to get to our destination. The road is crowded with trucks and most of the time we were driving at about 20 km/h,” he said.

- Sapa

Nkandla architect asks others to join forces

Embattled Nkandla architect Minenhle Makhanya, who is being sued for R155m by the state, has invited others implicated in the project to join legal forces.

On Tuesday his lawyers will file notice at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court demanding that all additional documents being used in the civil court action against him be handed over.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is suing Pinetown-based Makhanya - who netted R17m in architect fees for designing and driving the state-financed R246m splurge on President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla home - to recover the funds he allegedly plundered from the department of public works (DPW).

Documents, minutes

However, according to a SIU report handed to Parliament last week that probed the multi-million-rand Nkandla upgrade, such were the perceived secrecy levels surrounding the development that key documents were “destroyed” while no minutes of any meetings exist.

SIU sleuths admitted senior officials, contractors and consultants delivered contradictory versions on key facts and state officials may have deliberately tried to delay their investigation and withhold evidence. By the SIU’s own admission, several key documents could not be found.

The report said no “serious” recordings of any meetings discussing Project Prestige A - the code name for the household and security upgrades - were “singularly helpful” to the SIU.

Makhanya’s lawyer Barnabas Xulu said before any court proceedings could begin, his client would still seek the “right to speak”.

“Makhanya was required to sign several non-disclosure documents concerning the Nkandla upgrade. First we need to locate these documents and have them waivered before [proceeding]. From what we understand he could face criminal prosecution otherwise,” said Xulu.

Join forces

Xulu, a prominent Western Cape lawyer who once administered The Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust and represented troubled Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe, said a notice would be served by Friday to allow others implicated in the report to join Makhanya in the defence.

“It will depend on the other parties and [where they find similarities]. We still have a long process ahead,” said Xulu.

Xulu’s Pietermaritzburg-based representatives Tomlinson Mnguni James Attorneys will on Tuesday file notice requesting all documents being used by the SIU in the civil claim against Makhanya.

The SIU provided several documents late last week but declined to provide others Makhanya had requested.

'No official record to speak of on Nkandla upgrade'

Government records on the Nkandla upgrade were so poor investigators had to use unofficial reports to conduct their investigation.

In the detailed 253-page SIU report handed to Parliament, investigators said the “main stumbling block” was there was “no official record to speak of” relating to the upgrade.

The report said DPW officials - Nkandla project manager Jean Rindel, former project manager Sam Mahadeo and Durban public works regional manager Kenneth Khanyile “vaguely suggested” they had been told not to keep documents or to destroy them.

When pressed on the instruction’s source, they did not provide details and their superiors denied issuing such an instruction.

There were also no audio recordings of any meetings in 2009, only four in 2010 and a handful in 2011 lasting seconds or “a few minutes” at a time while only one recording was dated and none had references.

Minutes obtained were not “relevant to this project” with investigators informed “special meetings” were called to take decisions on the “Nkandla matters”.

“Despite a diligent search... the minutes could not be located”.

They also discovered documents relating to the upgrade with no official status while others required for the investigation were delivered just weeks before the completion date.

“One cannot but conclude either officials had been withholding documents... or had suddenly ‘found them’”, the report said.

Documents without official status were relied on as well as interviews with role-players that were “different and ... contradictory versions of what happened”.

Rubber bullets fired at Grabouw protesters

Grabouw - Members of the public order policing unit fired rubber bullets at protesters in Grabouw .

A group of about 100 protesters moved across a division onto the N2 and started moving closer to the police cordon. Then they began throwing stones at police.

Police responded by firing rubber bullets and the crowd fled into the township of Slang Park.

Police set up a vantage point on the division and continued firing at the crowd.

There were also reports that more protesters had gathered at Ou Kaapse Weg and were toyi-toying while police kept a close watch.

The North Pineview entrance to Grabouw has been closed again and traffic was starting to back up in the direction of Gordon's Bay.

Thirteen people were arrested for looting spaza shops during the protests.

Protesters have also made several attempts to break into the U-Save supermarket on Gaffley Street, said Lt Raldene Atson.

Police have been working with a private security company at U-Save which has become a regular target during riots in Grabouw.

Earlier residents claimed that the popular Moonlight Cafe in Melrose Place had been “totally stripped”. The gate and fence in front of that shop had also been stolen.

Some protesters lined the N2 on the barrier next to the Slangpark township. Smoke could be seen rising in the area between Slangpark and Melrose Place.

Atson said the smoke came from tyres being burnt in an effort to barricade the road close to the Pineview Primary School.

Some protesters have also approached the police cordon close to the Orchards Farm Stall on the N2 to see if they can find a way through.

All schools in Grabouw have been closed.

Atson said the town was relatively quiet by mid-morning and traffic was being allowed through the Pineview North turnoff and Ou Kaapse Weg.

An SA National Roads Agency official, Wonder Mpofu, said he was waiting for a truck and digger loader to be on standby to clear the N2 of rocks and rubble as soon as the police gave the go ahead.

On Monday protesters marched to the municipal offices in Pineview to hand over a memorandum listing their grievances.

Grievances included in the memorandum were a lack of housing, poor and expensive electricity supply and bad road conditions.

- Sapa

Grabouw protesters light fires next to N2

Grabouw - The security situation in protest-hit Grabouw had deteriorated to such an extent on Tuesday morning that not even the fire brigade were allowed in, officials said.

Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa said earlier cars were still allowed on an ad hoc basis to pass through the closed off section of the N2.

But by 9am, groups of protesters were setting fires next to the road and hiding from police behind a barrier in Slang Park township.

Fire engines were on standby but were not allowed onto the road to douse the fires for fear of being stoned, Africa said.

A Sapa correspondent on the scene said a group of people had lined up on the N2, which had been closed since Monday afternoon from the Eskom turnoff and Pineview North entrance to The Orchards farm.

Tyres were still smouldering on the road and some protesters ran across the road, setting fires, and then ran back and hiding behind a barrier in the township.

A police official said at least 13 people had been arrested.

More shops were plundered overnight, some belonging to foreigners. At one shop, the gates and fence protecting it were removed by looters.

Service delivery protests broke out in the Western Cape farming town on Monday, causing school closures, looting, and vandalism.

A resident of Melrose Place said she heard shots being fired until about 11pm Monday night, where informal housing near Gaffley Street had been broken down by protesters.

Police lined Ou Kaapse Weg and Gaffley Street to protect people wanting to walk to work on Tuesday morning.

Buses and motorists were being directed along alternative routes in the Caledon and Gordon's Bay area under police protection.

A relief unit of the public order police was sent to Grabouw, 65km south-east of Cape Town along the N2 highway, on Monday night.

This was to provide respite for units that had been battling to regain control after the protests spiralled into violence and looting on Monday afternoon, Lieutenant Raldene Atson said on Monday night.

Reports of cars being stoned in the Pineview area were received on Tuesday morning.

Many residents have complained about pupils not being able to finish their exam papers on Monday and had to be sent home for their safety, although it has been denied by John Michels, chairman of the Grabouw Civic Organisation and one of the main organisers of the protests.

Schools will be closed on Tuesday and pupils sent home.

On Monday, oil was poured on the highway and later rocks and burning tyres were used to block access to the town. - Sapa

Service delivery protests twice close N2

Cape Town - The situation remained tense in Grabouw on Tuesday morning after service delivery protests broke out in the Western Cape farming town, causing school closures, looting and vandalism.

The N2 was closed from the Eskom turnoff and Pineview North entrance to The Orchards farm stall.

A resident of Melrose Place said she heard shots being fired until about 11pm on Monday night, where informal housing near Gaffley Street had been broken down by protesters.

Police have lined Ou Kaapse Weg and Gaffley street to protect people wanting to walk to work.

Buses and motorists were being directed along alternative routes in the Caledon and Gordon's Bay area under police protection.

One of the Western Cape’s two economic lifelines remained closed late on Monday as stone-throwers picked moving targets on the N2 highway.

Copy of ca p8 grabouw cop done
A police officer keeps watch next to the N2 during a service delivery protest in Grabouw. Picture: Cindy Waxa
Monday ended as it began at dawn, with Sir Lowry’s Pass, the Houwhoek Pass and a 25km length of the N2 through the Elgin Valley shut to traffic.

The first projectiles were hurled before dawn on the straight stretch of road between the first and second turn-offs to Grabouw. The road was re-opened at about 9.30am, but was closed again at about 4.30pm.

Long queues of vehicles sat jammed at the foot of Sir Lowry’s Pass, with some motorists choosing to head south towards Gordon’s Bay and take the Clarence Drive coastal road instead, via Rooi Els, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond.

Western Cape Transport MEC Donald Grant on Monday night slammed the interruption to traffic on the key route.

“I’ve been in touch with the mayor of Theewaterskloof and Community Safety MEC Dan Plato. Obviously, the police have some problems of their own right now - and one is understanding of that.

“But it’s completely unacceptable to us that this matter is not dealt with effectively by the police. Citizens have a right to protest, but they have no right to take rights away from other citizens. Burning tyres, pouring oil and stoning on one of the main economic routes in the Western Cape is completely unacceptable.”

At mid-morning, police fired rubber bullets and used teargas to disperse more than 1 000 people protesting over service delivery at the Grabouw municipal offices.

The protesters began assembling in Old Cape Road and marched a few hundred metres to the municipal offices in Pineview to hand over a memorandum listing their grievances.

The public order policing unit watched the march closely, and Theewaterskloof mayor Chris Punt arrived from Caledon to receive the memorandum.

After being addressed by several community leaders, the crowd left the municipal offices but began filtering back into the surrounding suburbs, hurling rocks at police, who gave chase.

Soon several rioters emerged at the N2 highway and began stoning vehicles.

The protest is the second in recent weeks.

Residents were not satisfied with the response to a list of grievances they handed to deputy mayor Mlulami Tshaka and town manager Anton Liebenberg on August 20.

John Michels, leader of the Grabouw Civics Organisation, then warned that the N2 would be blocked every weekend until their demands were met.

Grievances included in the memorandum were lack of housing, poor and expensive electricity supply, and bad roads.

Margaret le Roux, secretary of the civics, said some people had been waiting more than 20 years for their houses.

“We are also not satisfied with the way the houses are allocated,” she said. “We have a list of people that need houses but the municipality has a different list to ours.”

The Theewaterskloof municipality said it did not provide electricity to Grabouw. The town’s electricity came directly from Eskom.

“We do have a road maintenance programme to keep roads in a proper state but we will look at the conditions of the specific roads mentioned in the memorandum of grievances,” it said.

“The municipality receives a very limited budget from the national housing department, of which the bulk is spent on housing for Grabouw.”

The ANC and the SACP have pledged support for the protesters.

Andile Lili, the expelled former Cape Town councillor and leader of the Ses’Khona Peoples Movement, said they were gaining more and more support in Grabouw and the Theewaterskloof area.

Lili was not present in Grabouw on Monday but he confirmed by telephone that Ses’Khona members had helped organise the march.

“We fully support our members and the Grabouw Civics Organisation and will encourage them to continue taking action until their demands are met.

“The people must stand up for themselves.”

Ses’Khona, which has a strong base in Cape Town, was aiming at extending its support base to the Western Cape’s rural areas including Theewaterskloof, Hermanus and De Doorns, Lili said.

Nkandla landscaping cost R16m

Architect Minenhle Makhanya built a garden fit for a king - eventually spending more than R16m on landscaping at President Jacob Zuma's home.

This has emerged from reams of official Department of Public Works (DPW) documents made public in pursuit of Zuma’s personal architect Makhanya.

Designing a garden fit for Zuma blossomed out of control.

Indigenous plants

Landscaping the grounds of the Zuma family’s sprawling Nkandla compound rose exponentially, with contractors importing protected indigenous trees and plants from across the country.

In its completion phase, the plush presidential pad now looks part of the natural bush hillscape.

The embattled architect has been slapped with the mammoth R155m bill for his alleged inflation of the cost of the compound.

The documents were filed in response to Makhanya’s intention to oppose the lawsuit, which came after months of mounting political and public pressure.

The flourishing cost of carefully designed indigenous gardens, manicured lawns and lush swathes of rehabilitated veld has been a point of focus in the graft-busting Specialised Investigating Unit’s report into the upgrades at the president’s compound.

Costs split

According to DPW cost-allocation documents from 2011, over R16m had been set aside for landscaping of the president’s home.

The bill was to be split between the public and private purse of the first citizen, although it is unclear how much of this bill has been settled.

Bonelena Construction and Moneymine CC scored big with the landscaping contract - the bulk of the business shared between the two.

Both companies were identified in Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report into the upgrade of the homestead titled Secure in Comfort.

They found their way into the spotlight for unduly benefiting from inflated fees.

According to the documents submitted by landscape architects, large tracts of land had to be redesigned because of “new security measures”.

Cycads, fully grown trees

“The overall finished landscape is natural veld, enhanced with shrubs and trees and is not a manicured landscape,” the papers read. Among the enhancements are 12 protected cycads, which were brought in complete with tracking tags and papers for the landscaping project at a cost of R5 500 each.

Fully grown trees at R7 500 each were also shipped to the rural hamlet and strategically placed for “secrecy”. The total cost for trees came to R1.6m.

No expense was spared in the establishment of feature gardens and ambience; with a proposed spend of hundreds of thousands of rands for recessed lighting which would “enhance the estate”.

One of the feature gardens made of up indigenous succulents and shrubs, set in front of the military-run clinic, came with a price tag of R30 000.

Rehabilitation of surrounding land disturbed during construction of the homestead cost almost R2.5m.

Attempts by The Witness to contact Bonelena Construction and Moneymine CC were unsuccessful.

NEW ANALYSIS: Years of band-aid therapy over Nkandla pay off for Zuma

THE Nkandla issue continues to fester like a sore for both the country and the governing African National Congress (ANC). However, instead of the infection being excised, it has just been dabbed and continues to ooze.

The much-awaited Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report was finally released last week, the third such report after the initial probe by an interministerial task team headed by Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi, and the more recent report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Unsurprisingly, the SIU report seeks to exonerate President Jacob Zuma for the significant cost overruns at his Nkandla homestead, perhaps because it is the president who after all signed the proclamation for the probe to go ahead.

The question that needs to be asked is whether there was any hope in ANC and government circles that the SIU report, given its limited mandate of looking at criminal, civil and disciplinary steps against officials, would help excise the pus?

And it seems after more than two years of the ANC and the security cluster ministers changing band aid after band aid, this has paid off. It appears that the much desired political healing is the SIU finding that Mr Zuma and his family benefited, but only blaming the president’s private architect Minenhle Makhanya and three former directors-general — none of whom still work for the government.

Ironically, both the SIU and public protector agree on one fundamental point: that the rot in government goes deep, across departments, and that many officials either don’t understand their jobs or fail to execute their responsibilities.

For the ANC, Nkandla has proved to be a real pain in the butt. The party continues to face questions in Parliament and from the general public. Yet the fundamental question on the issue that has not been answered by anybody is: Why must the taxpayer pay between R216m and R246m to secure Mr Zuma’s private residence?

Ms Madonsela pointed out in her findings that structures such as the clinic, the "fire pool", and amphitheatre were constructed at state expense and that there was no indication they would revert to state ownership.

The SIU is outcomes driven. If it finds that monies have to be recovered the unit has to lay charges; in other words blame someone, and then recover as much of those monies as possible. Unfortunately, it has not set its sights on the main beneficiary.

Significantly, however, the SIU did also raise concern over certain facts that emerged from its investigation. This included that very early in the upgrade process, Mr Zuma had introduced his private professional team — dealing with his own upgrades — to officials at the Department of Public Works. Soon thereafter former Public Works Minister Geoff Doidge "urged" that the two processes — Mr Zuma’s private renovations and the state security upgrades — be "co-ordinated".

According to the report: " The direct involvement of these persons was used by officials as a means to support or push through what they themselves wanted. In fact, there appeared to be a disturbing tendency to invoke the name of the president to move the project along …"

Mr Makhanya is now facing charges and the SIU wants him to cough up R155m. The SIU report states that Public Works officials effectively surrendered their duties and responsibilities to him and therefore lost control of the entire project. This smacks of "undue influence", the very same issue that led to the unlawful use of Waterkloof Air Force Base in February last year — an issue for which no one has taken political accountability.

Burning N2 closed to traffic

Cape Town - Protesters in and around Grabouw in the Western Cape started fires on the N2 on Monday evening, police said.

“They (the fires) are currently on the N2. There are a lot of people on the N2, police and other people. We are trying to clear the highway,” Lieutenant Raldene Atson said.

The N2 was closed to traffic, with police directing motorists around the area via alternative routes.

However, protesters under the cover of darkness had begun throwing stones at cars on the alternative routes as well.

“On the alternative routes, people started throwing stones as well. Police are addressing situation and it doesn't help us that its now dark in the area,” said Atson.

Informal housing near Gaffley Street, at Melrose Place in Grabouw, had been broken down by protesters.

Police moved into the area to restore order, with protesters throwing stones at them in response.

“Protesters, apart from throwing stones at motorists, also threw stones at police. Police there are being hindered by the darkness,” Atson said.

“Protesters are using the darkness to evade police, as they keep switching positions.”

It had been reported to police that a number of shops in Melrose Place and Xola Naledi owned by foreign nationals had been looted by protesters on Monday evening.

“We warned the people and shop owners (earlier and over the weekend) to be aware of what's happening,” Atson said.

Its believed most of the shop owners removed their valuables following the warning by police.

Earlier, police fired rubber bullets and used teargas to disperse more than 1000 people protesting over service delivery at the Grabouw municipal offices.

The rubber bullets were fired when protesters marching in Ou Kaapse Weg started throwing stones at police.

A section of the N2 passing the town had to be closed for several hours after cars were stoned.

Oil was poured on the highway and later rocks and burning tyres were used to block access to the town.

The N2 was closed at Sir Lowry's Pass, Gordon's Bay and close to Bot River.

The protesters gathered in Gaffley Street and marched to the municipal offices in Pineview to hand over a memorandum listing their grievances.

The public order policing unit was called in with Nyalas and water cannons to contain the crowd.

Theewaterskloof mayor Chris Punt arrived from Caledon to receive the memorandum.

After handing over the memorandum and being addressed by several community leaders, the crowd left the municipal offices. They started marching back to the townships and throwing stones.

The protest is the second in recent weeks. Residents were not satisfied with the response to a list of grievances handed over to deputy mayor Mlulami Tshaka and town manager Anton Liebenberg on August 20.

John Michels, leader of the Grabouw Civics Organisation, then warned that the N2 would be blocked every weekend until their demands were met.

Grievances included in the memorandum were lack of housing, poor and expensive electricity supply and bad road conditions.

- Sapa