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Government releases task team report on Nkandla

Posted On Thursday, 19 December 2013 16:31 Published by
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The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Task Team report on the security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma's private residence in Nkandla has found allegations that the President used state resources to build or upgrade the homestead to be unfounded.

Thulas NxesiGovernment released the report at a briefing in Pretoria on Thursday.

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said the upgrades at the Nkandla homestead were necessary and that all sovereign governments have a responsibility to provide security for their Heads of State and their families, and that such security is provided at state’s expense.

He said President Zuma had not asked for the security installations. As per normal procedure and as per their mandate, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Department of Defence conducted a security assessment of the area.

According to the report, the upgrades were necessitated by the rural setting of the area. Services such as transport, roads, power, water and sanitation did not exist and this posed a security hazard for those charged with safeguarding the President.

Also, there was a history of violence in this area of KwaZuluNatal, which had seen the Zuma homestead and family members being attacked on three occasions.

“The fact that the President has to conduct government functions such as receiving official delegations, holding regular meetings and business consultations from his private residence necessitated major security upgrades in Nkandla,” said Nxesi.

According to the report, the actual security installation cost approximately R71 million.

Approximately R135 million was spent on operational needs and the basic facilities and services such as water, power and accommodation needed to support the security upgrade for SAPS and South African National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel.

However, the report did find that there were many supply chain irregularities in relation to the appointment of service providers and the procurement of goods and services.

“For instance, large variation orders and the high percentage spent on consultancy fees point to the possibility of over-pricing and collusion,” said Nxesi, adding that the Ministerial Handbook did not adequately address security around the Head of State, Deputy President and their families, hence the Cabinet policy of 2003.

The task team has, in its report, recommended that the allocation of tenders and the appointment of contractors to the special project be referred to the Auditor General for investigation.

“I engaged with the Special Investigating Unit [SIU] and the Auditor General [AG] for further forensic and criminal investigation,” said Nxesi, adding that the President had also signed the proclamation empowering the SIU to institute further investigations.

Nxesi has also written to the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, requesting SAPS to investigate any possible criminal acts.

Although most of the senior officials involved in the Nkandla project have left the department - including two Directors General, the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Operating Officer - Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe said the long arm of the law would find those who had done wrong.

Radebe is the chairperson of the JCPS cluster.

Addressing questions that have been in the public discourse around certain aspects of the upgrades, for which costs had been incurred, the minister explained that the tuck shop had to be relocated from within the premises and erected at the perimeter of the premises due to the security risk posed by the movement of customers.

Nxesi said the state was duty-bound to construct it, after relocating it. "The tuck shop existed long before the President was inaugurated and was relocated within the three-hectare land of the President.”

He said neighbouring families also had to be relocated as they were identified as a security risk to have them within the high-security zone.

Nxesi said the rondavels could not remain where they were, as they were going to be an obstruction to the fence line and furthermore posed a challenge for the positioning of the surveillance cameras.

A feature, known as the chicken run, was constructed within the cattle kraal as a replacement to a number of structures that were scattered around some of the main dwellings. The minister said these were obstructions and potential hiding areas for intruders.

The cattle kraal and culvert where erected in a new dedicated area to prevent cattle from disturbing and damaging the electronic equipment and the fence.

“When the assessments were conducted, as part of security, sensitive electronic equipment was recommended to be installed on the fence. False alarms as well as damage to the fence and electronic equipment could be caused by the cattle, and the cattle and people were using the same entrance due to the location of the kraal posing a potential risk in the high security area.”

The minister said a fire pool had been built because of the possible outbreak of fire as most of the structures have thatched roofs and are close to each other.

In order to eliminate or minimise potential risks and due to water supply which was erratic, a fire pool - the so-called swimming pool - was decided on as the most viable option for fire fighting.

The water reservoir was constructed for use by both homestead as well as accommodation for security personnel.

Nxesi also explained that there was no amphitheatre. “It is not an amphitheatre but constructed as a structure with steps. It is in excess of 4 metres height, broken down in the form of stepped terraces and curved to give it more structural stability against the earth.”

With regards to the visitors’ waiting rooms, he said they were constructed in order to accommodate the large number of people that visit the President at his private residence, which is a security challenge to control them.

The SANDF’s Chief Director: Strategic Planning, Vejaynand Ramlakan, who also attended the briefing, said paving had been necessitated by the fact that normal security vehicles cannot patrol terrain.

Also, the health infrastructure or clinic had been built because even after Zuma’s tenure as President is complete, the SANDF will still be required to look after his health. The SANDF is investigating how the public can benefit from the use of the clinic.

SAPS National Commissioner General Riah Phiyega said the upgrades were all necessary and that “there were no nice-to-haves”.

Last modified on Thursday, 19 December 2013 17:08
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