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SIU might probe Nkandla upgrade costs

The Presidency is expected to give the SIU the go ahead to investigate Nkandla's upgrade costs.

The Nkandla homestead. Picture: City Press.

JOHANNESBURG - It now appears that the Presidency is awaiting the final paperwork from the Public Works Department before issuing a proclamation asking the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe government's spending on President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home.

On Sunday, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said the unit would be asked to probe why government spent R206 million on what he said was for security upgrades for the project.

Included in this amount was R135 million for the "operational needs" of various government departments, R7 million for consultants and security features such as bullet-proof windows, security fencing, evacuation mechanisms, and firefighting equipment.

The upgrades include a clinic, steam rooms, fireplaces, chandeliers, the construction of a sauna and changing facilities, revamping of a swimming pool and upgrading of security measures, including an escape route.

Nxesi said no public funds were used for the actual building of the houses.

However, he said the report would not be made public.

Nxesi stressed Zuma was not kept up to date regarding the costs of the upgrade.

THAT 'DUBIOUS LETTER'

Meanwhile, the _City Press _newspaper said it is in possession of a letter which was written by the Public Works Department to Zuma informing him of the upgrade costs in 2010.

The department denies ever seeing what it calls 'the dubious letter'.

The letter appears to have been signed by the then Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, her deputy Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, director general Siviwe Dongwana, chief operating officer Ashraf Adam and deputy director general Rachard Samuels on 5 November 2010.

PRESIDENCY TO OUTLINE SIU INVESTIGATION

The Presidency says it cannot confirm if it has received the official investigative report from the Public Works Department.

Technically, Public Works has to ask the president to proclaim the SIU investigation into the Nkandla spending.

That proclamation will set out the official mandate for the probe and will outline what exactly the unit must investigate.

Meanwhile, the Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has condemned the Nkandla spending saying it cannot be justified.

Zuma recently came under fire when it was revealed that the government was spending almost R400-million to renovate his official residences in Pretoria and Cape Town.

The Public Protector and the Auditor General are conducting their own investigations into the upgrade costs.