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CityPress - - Voices and Careers -

here’s a cur­tain of freez­ing rain buck­et­ing down out­side Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s homestead in KwaNxa­m­alala vil­lage near Nkandla on Wed­nes­day. But the rain and cold have done noth­ing to thin out the scrum of jour­nal­ists perched at the cat­tle grid, the en­trance to Num­ber One’s homestead.

There are TV cam­eras along the edge of the grid, with bored writ­ers and cam­era­men hud­dling un­der um­brel­las held aloft to keep the gear dry. Ev­ery media out­let imag­in­able has de­ployed some poor newshound to stand in the rain while the par­lia­men­tary ad hoc com­mit­tee – set up to in­ves­ti­gate who got the bin bags con­tain­ing the skim from the R246 mil­lion se­cu­rity up­grade – gets a guided tour of the fa­cil­ity.

We’ve also been told we can’t tag along, so there’s all the more rea­son to be there.

By the time the com­mit­tee ar­rives in a lovely warm SAPS bus, the media crew are well pissed on and pissed off. It’s been a long, wet morn­ing of be­ing pushed around by a suc­ces­sion of plain-clothes and uni­formed mup­pets, and there’s no end in sight.

Our only en­ter­tain­ment has been the crew of lo­cals in ANC T-shirts toyi-toy­ing in the rain at the en­trance of a mar­quee set up near the main gate. They’re keep­ing warm by singing songs about Mmusi Maimane’s mother and Julius Malema’s gen­i­tals. Dis­ci­pline, com­rades.

Word comes that the to­tal media ban has mor­phed into a “lim­ited ac­cess” visit. This isn’t so sur­pris­ing.

Po­lice Min­is­ter Nkosi­nathi Nh­leko – who was sup­posed to work out how much Zuma owed – has made it clear that the tax­payer, not the com­man­der in chief, is go­ing to cough up.

Nh­leko has built more walls be­tween Zuma and re­spon­si­bil­ity by hold­ing the depart­ment of public works re­spon­si­ble for the mys­te­ri­ous de­ci­sion to build the 21 se­cu­rity houses for R6 mil­lion each. The buck’s stop­ping with for­mer min­is­ter Ge­off Doidge, his for­mer deputy Hen­dri­etta Bo­gopane-Zulu and their bu­reau­crats.

That’s the script the ANC cats on the com­mit­tee are go­ing to be read­ing from, as they con­tinue try­ing to black out as much as pos­si­ble of Public Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s re­port. And to add to the ar­gu­ment for a new se­cret up­grade.

I’m keep­ing warm by fan­ta­sis­ing about be­ing let loose in­side with no min­der. Butt naked self­ies on the com­man­der in chief’s Sealy Pos­ture­pedic in the main love cham­ber. A clap and Al Green is croon­ing Lets Stay To­gether as the lights dim and the disco ball starts spin­ning.

A cou­ple of laps of the fire pool – it must be heated at that cost – to work off the cold from icy wa­ter trick­ling down the small of my back into my arse.

A large Glen­fid­dich 18 from the stock left over from the in­au­gu­ra­tion party while I catch up on the cricket on the big screen in Msholozi’s of­fice in the visi­tor’s cen­tre. And why not take a look for the walk-in safe where all the money he’s not gonna pay back is kept.

I’m men­tally or­der­ing a hot cof­fee from MaKhu­malo’s tuck shop while my clothes get dried in the R6 mil­lion laun­dry in the cops bar­racks – they’ll send them back via the un­der­ground tun­nel so they don’t get wet again – when we get word to move.

We’re herded along the perime­ter past the main gate and up the hill to the SAPS houses, while the se­cu­rity in­side the fence eye­ball us ma­lig­nantly.

They’re rub­bish. The houses. Poorly fin­ished. No­body’s liv­ing in them. There are mat­tresses piled in one. There’s goat shit on most of the floors we see. There’s no way they’re worth R600 000 a pop, let alone the R6 mil­lion we paid for each one of them.

We’re try­ing to get an­swers out of the man­ager when John Steen­huisen, who’s sup­posed to be in­side with the ad hoc com­mit­tee, ar­rives with a crew of DA MPs. Maybe there weren’t enough cam­eras in­side.

Steen­huisen and Phumzile van Damme start wind­ing up the of­fi­cials. So the of­fi­cials close us all down. Boot us out. Back to the rain and the wait­ing game. Thanks guys.

Af­ter a cou­ple of false starts, our main min­der ar­rives. We shiver our way past the main gate, up the hill past the he­li­pad and be­yond the cops houses to the clinic built by the SA Na­tional De­fence Force for Num­ber One. It’s an empty shell.

Bri­gadier Gen­eral Siphiwe Shezi is in charge. Shezi has this cool Thai navy cap. He goes into a weird rap about snakes, cross-bor­der mil­i­tary ex­er­cises and other kinds of what what’s. Shezi’s words, not mine. The main min­der closes Shezi down be­fore he digs him­self deeper into a hole, and we’re ush­ered off again to meet the com­mit­tee.

At the gate, com­mit­tee chair Cedric Frolick is

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