Nkandla: The gloves come off

Sunday World - - Front Page - NKU­L­ULEKO NCANA

THE govern­ment says its un­prece­dented ap­pli­ca­tion to the courts for an in­ter­dict that would pro­hibit Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela from re­leas­ing her in­terim re­port on the Nkandla up­grades was nec­es­sary be­cause of the “un­re­al­is­tic ” dead­line she set for the se­cu­rity clus­ter bosses to com­ment on her find­ings.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jeff Radebe said yes­ter­day that Madon­sela had given the se­cu­rity clus­ter three work­ing days in which to study and com­ment on the 357-page re­port.

Radebe said it was Madon­sela’s re­fusal to ex­tend the dead­line suf­fi­ciently that pushed the clus­ter into go­ing to court.

Madon­sela was forced to with­hold the in­terim re­port, which she had been due to re­lease yes­ter­day to in­ter­ested and af­fected par­ties.

The DA had asked the pub­lic pro­tec­tor to in­ves­ti­gate whether pub­lic money had been abused in the R200-mil­lion “se­cu­rity up­grade” at Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s pri­vate home­stead in Nkandla.

It is be­lieved that among the up­grades are Astro­turf soc­cer fields, bunkers and a spaza shop run by Zuma’s wife MaKhu­malo.

De­spite Zuma’s Nkandla home be­ing de­clared a na­tional key point, Sun­day World was able to buy a few es­sen­tials at the Zuma spaza shop two weeks ago.

The se­cu­rity clus­ter served court pa­pers on Madon­sela on Fri­day – the day on which its bosses were to have given her their com­ments on the re­port if they were to meet her dead­line.

The clus­ter, which in­cludes the po­lice and the de­part­ments of state se­cu­rity, de­fence, and jus­tice, asked the court for more time in which to re­spond to the in­terim re­port.

Radebe said Madon­sela had been asked sev­eral times to grant an ex­ten­sion to the dead­line of 10 days, but would agree to only two days more.

“The pub­lic pro­tec­tor has spent a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time, close to a year, in­ves­ti­gat­ing this mat­ter … It is crit­i­cally im­por­tant that the se­cu­rity clus­ter is af­forded suf­fi­cient and rea­son­able time to study the re­port and pro­vide com­ments on sec­tions that may be of se­cu­rity con­cern. The pub­lic pro­tec­tor has, in our view, un­rea­son­ably de­nied us the op­por­tu­nity to prop­erly en­gage with the re­port,” he said.

He said it was not the govern­ment’s in­ten­tion to muz­zle or threaten Madon­sela.

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