A visit to President Jacob Zuma’s private residence revealed that the homestead was not worth the price tag, the Nkandla ad hoc comittee chairperson said on Wednesday afternoon.
Cedric Frolick was speaking to the media outside the president’s homestead in KwaNxamalala village in Nkandla shortly after conducting an in loco inspection.
“The Department of Public Works has a lot of explaining to do. The facilities for police and army were never formally handed over. We’ve been told police protection services are not using them. In the meantime, it is being used as police barracks… and there is a lot of vandalism taking place there.
“We were also shocked with the workmanship of the clinic. You can clearly see people did not pay attention to the provisions that were there. At the moment, I would say that facility requires a lot of work because it is clearly visible that money has been wasted,” said Frolick.
On Thursday, the committee will be at the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature in Pietermaritzburg, where it is expected to deliberate over its findings on the site visit. Discussions are expected to carry on until Friday.
Despite the chilly weather, about 30 ANC supporters wearing T-shirts with Zuma’s face, gathered at the gate to show support for the president on Wednesday morning.
“Hands off our president!” they chanted. The small crowd danced and sang anti-DA songs and allegedly called DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme isifebe, a bitch.
Houses never occupied
The tour, which was led by Zwile Zulu from the police ministry and Bongani Majola from the Presidency, began at about 11:00.
The delegation took the media to the 21 two-bedroomed South African National Defence Force (SANDF) houses located outside the perimeter of the main homestead. The houses cost R135m to construct. He also revealed in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature on Tuesday that these houses were not security features.
A walk through the houses revealed that they had never been occupied.
In one house, dust gathered on the window frames and not a single one contained furniture. One house contained a pile of mattresses.
The tour degenerated into an argument when the delegation complained that members of the DA, who were on an alternative over-site visit in the area, kept interrupting the officials.
The media was escorted out of the premises and told to wait outside.
After a two-hour wait, the inspection carried on, this time led by Majola who showed the media two helipads and the SANDF clinic.
‘We have seen the gross inflation of prices’
At the clinic, SANDF Brigadier General Siphiwe Shezi revealed that the clinic – built for the Nkandla community, visiting dignitaries, the President and his family – had never been used because it was the subject of the Nkandla investigation.
“Since the Nkandla saga, we decided as the defence force, to wait until the probe was finished.
“This is not part of the primary estate, this is a primary health care facility and we need it to start operating and running soon,” he said.
The media were then escorted from the premises and addressed by Frolick, who reported back on the inspection by the committee.
Frolick said the experience was an eye opener and had confirmed the findings of the previous ad hoc committee.
“We have seen the gross inflation of prices. What I’ve seen today is not worth more than the R200 million claimed to have been spent. And the people responsible for that must be held accountable,” he said.
Frolick described the visitors centre as a very modest place.
“My constituency office is four times bigger than the space we have been exposed to.”
He said he was shocked that when Nkandla was investigated, key elements of the project had not been completed.
“I can arrive at the conclusion that the President is not secure in comfort in Nkandla and there is serious concern,” he said adding that the committee did not go into Zuma’s house.
‘A pool is a pool’
He said the committee was given a demonstration of how the fire pool would work in the event of a fire.
“What we saw in front of us is a pool. A pool is a pool. It is all that it is being utilised for. Minister said it’s primarily for fighting fires, but it is also a recreational facility. The explanations given to us in terms of lack of pressure from providers, municipality is insufficient.”
Frolick said he was satisfied that the fire pool was just a swimming pool.
“It is a water resource that can be used among others for fighting fires, but it is also a recreational facility.”
Frolick said the committee would on Thursday reflect on the presentation made by the minister and the visit to the homestead.
“The figure of R135m for a place used by police as barracks was grossly, grossly inflated.
“As a committee, we can’t understand why such an amount of money was presumably spent there and how it was simply attached to the presidential upgrades.”
Frolick said Nkandla was a classic example of how a prestige project should not be dealt with.
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