Trial to recover R155m from Zuma’s Nkandla architect to begin

THE week-long trial in the R155 million civil recovery proceedings against Nkandla architect Minenhle Makhanya is expected to begin at the Pietermaritzburg High Court today.

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 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 R246 million 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 transferred to the Special Tribunal by agreement of the parties.

Makhanya, the first respondent, was the principal architect in the security related upgrades at the private residence of Zuma.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is now seeking to recover an about R155 million from Makhanya which is alleged to have been from the irregularities in the contract which, it is contended, was awarded and amended several times in alleged violation and disregard to the legislative prescripts governing procurement in the public institutions.

The hearing was initially scheduled for July, but was postponed to the end of September after Mr Makhanya told the Special Tribunal in the case management leading up to the period that he did not have funds to cover the trial costs.

He had applied to the Legal Aid Board for legal assistance which was declined.

The SIU will lead evidence and Makhanya will also call his witnesses and avail any other documentary evidence relevant to the trial.

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