Lawyers drop Nkandla architect

Cape Town - The law firm representing Nkandla architect Minenhle Makhanya has withdrawn its services from his case, Special Investigations Unit head Jan Lekhoa Mothibi has revealed in Parliament.

Advocate Mothibi and the SIU were in Parliament on Wednesday to account for their 2016/17 annual report.

In one of their high-profile civil litigation matters, Mothibi told MPs that the High Court case to recoup R155m from Makhanya had stalled, as his lawyers had pulled out.

Makhanya was the lead architect on the R246m project, which involved upgrading security features at President Jacob Zuma's homestead, which began in 2013.

READ: SIU guns for Zuma's architect

Mothibi said that pleading in the case had closed and that the SIU had served its discovery affidavit of over 92 000 pages. "The next step is the pre-trial conference, whereafter the matter will go to trial."

However, proceedings will not begin until Makhanya gets a new lawyer.

News24 confirmed with legal firm Xulu Attorneys Inc that they had withdrawn as Makhanya's representatives, but could not get any further comment on the matter.

City Press reported in July that Makhanya’s now former lawyer, Barnabas Xulu, said his client had missed a December deadline to respond to the court because of the sheer volume of papers filed by the SIU.

He added, at the time, that the process was "expensive" for Makhanya, who was "in circumstances where his finances were severely strained, as he is no longer able to get business".

Last year, Zuma was ordered to pay back R7.8m for renovations to his home that were not related to security.

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