SIU wants R155m from Nkandla architect

Johannesburg - The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is trying to recover more than R155m from architect Minenhle Makhanya, the “principal agent” allegedly responsible for inflating the cost of the security upgrade at President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla.

City Press reported the investigating unit was given the mandate to probe the R216m upgrade, which began in 2009 after Zuma’s election as president.

The unit filed a summons against Makhanya in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday.

The SIU’s final report on its Nkandla probe, conducted in terms of a proclamation issued by Zuma, is set to be made public next week.

It is not clear at this stage whether the state will focus all its attention on Makhanya, who was illegally appointed by the department of public works.

Makhanya, who had worked as an architect for Zuma on his home before his election as president, is the first in a series of individuals and companies named by the SIU in papers on Tuesday against whom it is understood to be preparing to act.

Applications against the others, including the contractors who he was responsible for recruiting, overseeing and paying, are understood to be in the pipeline.

In papers, SIU KwaZulu-Natal senior forensic lawyer Ashish Gosai said Makhanya’s appointment, on the recommendation of public works project manager Jean Rindel and then director general Solly Malebye on 27 August 2009, was unlawful and invalid as there was no open tender process around it.

It was also made despite Makhanya not being on the public works roster system, a prerequisite which he and those who appointed him should have been aware of.

It was Makhanya’s actions that had resulted in the cost skyrocketing from the authorised R27m approved by public works after security assessments by the South African Police Service (SAPS), South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and intelligence services.

Security installations

In a series of five claims within the application, Gosai said that Makhanya had been responsible for building security installations, including the R21m underground bunker with three lifts and the R3.9m fire pool that were “not security measures as were determined by the SAPS and SANDF’’.

Makhanya changed plans and costs without authorisation, making payments totalling R68.5m to service providers for work that fell outside what the SAPS and SANDF recommended.

Gosai claimed Makhanya had “overdesigned” guard houses, a control room, the clinic, 34 staff houses an inner perimeter fence and sewerage facilities, often more than doubling the SAPS stipulated dimensions and costing public works an unnecessary R11.7m.

Makhanya, Gosai said, had also caused the department to illegally pay himself and other service providers – Ilangalethu Consulting, Ibongo Consulting, Mustapha and Cachalia Engineering and Igoda Projects – more than R13.6m in professional fees.

Gosai also wants Makhanya to pay back the R54.8m he paid to Pamela Mfeka of Moneymine Investments and Thandeka Nene of Bonelena Construction and Projects, the two contractors responsible for the construction side of the project, and an additional R5.3m from Igoda for work which was never done.

The final claim, for R1.18m, is for a payment he made to Bonelena for a fence it never built.

Makhanya has 20 days to indicate to the court whether he will oppose the application, after which he must do so within another 20 days.