This is what Zuma’s R4 million fire pool looks like

With a reported price tag of  just over R3.9 million, South African president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla ‘fire pool’ costs more than the average fiberglass unit commonly found in your neighbour’s back yard.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko on Thursday (28 May) released his report on the controversial R246 million security upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla.

In his presentation, he treated the media and live television viewers to a demonstration on how to use a ‘firepool’ – one of the most controversial features of the Nkandla home.

According to Nhleko, the R3.9 million swimming pool “is first to be used for fire fighting, second, recreation in the homestead”, revealing its true purpose as a vital security feature.

Real estate experts have previously pegged the average cost of an eco pool at between R4,000 and R8,000 per square metre of swimming space – while an average pool of 3mx6m would cost around R70,000 to build.

For a basic R4 million pool, one could thus expect a 500 square metre eco pool at the very least.

From limited footage and photography of Nkandla, what can be seen of any pool facilities shows nothing that stand-out, at least not enough to warrant a near R4 million price tag.

A glimpse of a 'fire pool' can be seen in some areal shots of Nkandla
A glimpse of a ‘fire pool’ can be seen in some aerial shots of Nkandla
Footage from demonstration also purportedly shows the Nkandla fire pool (via AFP/Ben Sheppard)
Footage from the demonstration also purportedly shows the Nkandla fire pool (via AFP/Ben Sheppard)

By comparison, an Olympic size swimming pool is around 1,200 square metres, and can cost between $300,000 and $500,000 (or more) to build, depending on the facilities required.

Stretching far beyond the basics, BusinessTech looked at some of the more finer pools around the globe, both private and commercial, showing off what true extravagance and excessive spending on water features can produce.

Kitchukov Family Pool – $1 million / R12.15 million

This is the private, family pool of Bulgarians, Marian and Anthony Kitchukov, who found success in the plumbing business in the USA. The pool took 5 months to build and features waterfalls, fountains and a 4.5-meter waterslide.

Kitchukov pool
Kitchukov pool

The Mountain – $2 million / R24.3 million

This 43m pool in Springville, Utah cost the family $2 million to build and features a ‘mountain’ built as a feature, using steel beams and a lot of concrete.

The pool also features five waterfalls, is deep enough to practice diving in, and has a water slide for the kids and the young at heart.

Lev Leviev pool – $10 million / R121.5 million

This is a personal pool owned by Israeli businessman Lev Leviev.

The businessman reportedly spent $70 million on his North London apartment, which has its pool as one of the central features. The pool is lined with gold and has spa and sauna facilities – and it covers up and turns the room into a ballroom.

Lev pool
Lev Leviev pool

Public pools

Pools built for the masses come with an inflated price tag, generally due to an increase in size and architectural appeal.

The Zodiac Pool – $3 million / R36.5 million

The Zodiac pool is one of the highlighted featers of the Imaid Bhawan Palace in India, which is part hotel, part royal residence. The palace took 15 years to complete.

The palace cost $225,000 to build in 1943 – over $3 million in today’s terms.

Zodiac pool
Zodiac pool

Nemo 33 – $3 million / R36.5 million

The Nemo 33 is the world’s deepest indoor diving pool, with a depth of 33 metres. The pool holds 2.5 million liters of water and took 7 years to construct at a cost of more than $3 million.

Diving in the pool, you’ll get to navigate a whole bunch of underwater tunnels and rooms to explore.

Nemo 33 pool
Nemo 33 pool

Hearst Castle pools – $17 million / R206.6 million

The Neptune and Roman pools found at the Heart Castle in the USA were built to mimic the baths of ancient Rome.

They were once the personal pools of 20th-century newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, but have since become national landmarks (and used in music videos and movies).

Roman Pool
Roman Pool
Neptune pool
Neptune pool

San Alfonso Del Mar – $2 billion / R24.3 billion

While stretching the concept of a “pool”, a 20 acre, 115ft deep ‘pool’ in San Alfonso Del Mar in Chile, that cost $2 billion to construct, holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest pool.

San Alfonso Del Mar
San Alfonso Del Mar

More on Nkandla

What Nkandla’s R246m security upgrades could have bought

How Nkandla’s millions could have been better spent

How to better spend Nkandla’s millions

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This is what Zuma’s R4 million fire pool looks like