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'Only Zuma can ask SIU to probe Nkandla'

SIU says it has not been asked to probe “wrong-doing” in the upgrading of Nkandla.

The SIU says it has not yet received a formal request from the Department of Public Works asking it to probe alleged wrong-doing in the upgrading of President Jacob Zuma's residence at Nkandla. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) on Tuesday said it had not yet received a formal request from the Department of Public Works to probe allegations of wrong-doing in the upgrading of President Jacob Zuma's residence at Nkandla.

On Sunday, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said the SIU would be asked to investigate whether any officials or contractors behaved illegally in driving what he said were the security costs of the KwaZulu-Natal home, to R206 million.

He said no taxpayers money was spent on the renovations, but questioned the choice of service providers used and said 15 of them were being probed.

The report revealed that R71 million was spent directly on security, while a further R135 million was spent on operational costs incurred by state departments involved in the upgrade.

The SIU said it would only be able to formally comment on the Nkandla issue once a complaint had been filed.

However, the SIU can only act when an investigation is proclaimed by Zuma.

This means it will have to be Zuma himself who formally asks the unit to investigate government spending on his own residence.

At the same time, there is still no confirmation of when exactly the SIU will get a new permanent head, after Justice Minister Jeff Radebe announced at the weekend that a new boss would be appointed in February.

Advocate Willem Heath resigned as head of the SIU in December 2011, citing there was doubt he could act independently.