Home South African Nkandla security upgrades architect discharged from hospital, but to miss court

Nkandla security upgrades architect discharged from hospital, but to miss court

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The Special Tribunal received a medical report from Makhanya’s wife stating that he would be unable to attend court proceedings for two days.

Minenhle Makhanya File picture: Supplied

Nkandla security upgrades principal architect Minenhle Makhanya has been discharged from hospital, but will not be able to attend proceedings on Friday.

The Special Tribunal on Thursday morning received a medical report from Makhanya’s wife stating that he would be unable to attend court proceedings for two days.

The week-long trial in the R155 million civil recovery proceedings against Makhanya was scheduled to wrap up proceedings at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday.

Special Tribunal spokesperson Selby Makgotho said Makhanya was admitted to an undisclosed hospital in Durban late on Wednesday night.

He was scheduled to cross-examine a witness, a specialist from the Special Investigating Unit, on Thursday as soon as she finished her testimony.

The matter is scheduled to commence in camera at the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday.

The decision to proceed with the matter in camera came as the Special Tribunal was alerted to information that would have revealed details about former president Jacob Zuma’s private security.

In March 2014, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released her final report on upgrades at Zuma’s Nkandla homestead. She found that Zuma and his family had benefited from measures implemented in the name of security.

The “Secure in Comfort” report found that Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from the R246m spent on non-security features at Nkandla – including a swimming pool, kraal, chicken run and visitors’ centre – and that he should pay back part of the money.

A civil claim was instituted against Makhanya after the upgrades at Zuma’s home were found to be excessive. The matter was first enrolled in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in September 2014, and was transferred to the Special Tribunal by agreement of the parties.

Makhanya said he had no legal representation due to being in a poor financial situation. He said the SIU was using state funds to take on an ordinary man, while he had run out of resources.

Makhanya further raised concerns about the media presence in court, saying he had been found guilty in the court of public opinion.

Earlier this week a specialist from the SIU revealed that 14 consultants with fraudulent certification were involved in the security upgrades at Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.

She testified that in May 2009 the project to upgrade the security was undertaken. The police and the SANDF were involved in the preparation of a report and appointed Makhanya as the project manager through the Department of Public Works.

According to the witness, the project increased in scope, as did the budget. The regular scope changes increased and ultimately stood at R216m. The first budget was estimated to be R27m.

The adjustments led to the loss of R155m beyond the scope and the budgeted amount. The private professional team was appointed in an irregular manner, according to the witness.

A helicopter pad and upgrade of the security infrastructure at Zuma’s homestead were included, but were not in the original scope of the work. The funding of the project came from the Department of Public Works, said the witness.

She said that R3m was paid for the design of a VIP parking lot with motorised garage doors and parking for nine vehicles, and the design of the “fire pool” with a capacity to carry 45 000 litres of water, in case of a fire at the homestead.

The tribunal heard how 20 additional units for staff at Nkandla were included and approved by Makhanya, with the witness saying that the only authorised work would have been in the form of an open tender that followed by due process, which was lacking in this instance.

She told the tribunal that staff accommodation was not a security requirement of the SAPS, and that Makhanya did not get written approval from the director-general, and that the overdesigns were not actioned by any prior written approval from the director-general.

On Thursday morning his Makhanya’s wife called Judge Kantharuby Pillay’s clerk and told him that Makhanya was “due to be discharged from hospital, and that he would require a further 24-hour period of confinement in which he would not be able to attend the trial today (on Thursday and Friday).”

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