Govt's 'absurd' Nkandla photo warning

Government has warned those who publish photos of Nkandla will face the full might of the law.

Government has warned those who publish photos of Nkandla will face the full might of the law. Picture: City Press.

JOHANNESBURG - Warnings by government about photographing or publishing images of President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla residence in KwaZulu-Natal have been widely condemned.

Yesterday, ministers faced questions about Nkandla and government's battle with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela during a post-Cabinet briefing in Pretoria.

Madonsela and government have been at loggerheads over her report on the R208 million upgrades at the compound.

The ministers said they have "no appetite" to drag Madonsela in and out of court over the report, but defended the spending and stood firm on matters of national security.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa issued a stern warning related to photographs of Nkandla.

"There may be pictures which expose security features and are still classified. Anybody who's not vetted and has classified documents in his or her possession will face the full might of the law."

But the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef)'s Adrian Basson disagrees.

"It would be quite absurd if we could no longer publish pictures of this upgrade because that would also mean we could no longer publish photographs of other places that fall under the National Key Points Act like the Union Buildings or Parliament."

Sanef says it's important to remember that the upgrades will continue to benefit the president and his family long after he completes his term in office, meaning it is not exclusively state property.

"We will continue to publish images of the Nkandla upgrades because we firmly believe there is immense public interest in doing so. To stop doing so will be a betrayal of our duty as watchdogs of democracy."

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos agrees, describing the security cluster's statement as "nonsense".

The warning has created outrage, with many expressing their dissatisfaction on Twitter.

Many have posted pictures of the compound in direct contravention of the cluster's demands.

Now we can't take pictures of Nkandla even though we pay over 200million rands

Min. Cwele, husband of druglord Cheryl, says those of us posting pictures of Nkandla will be locked up. Bring it on!!

Quick Siyabonga, shut down the 'net!, #Cwele - Cabinet to apply #apartheid secrets law on #Nkandla: #Zuma #ANC

Let's fill the prisons in protest against Jacob Zuma's megalomania! #ASIJIKI # #Nkandla

So I'm breaking the law by publishing images of the property ( #Nkandla) I paid with my taxes. @MyANC_ has gone mad