Nkandla architect's lawyers mum on scapegoat claims

Minenhle Makhanya's attorney says he can't say at this stage if his client is being made into a scapegoat.

President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Lawyers for Nkandla architect Architect Minenhle Makhanya say it's too soon to say if he's being made into a scapegoat for government's spending on President Jacob Zuma's home in Nkandla.

Makhanya's lawyers have now handed in legal documents stating their intention to defend him against an application by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) that he should repay government over R150 million of the money spent on Nkandla.

His attorney Barnabas Xulu says he can't say at this stage if his client is being made into a scapegoat.

"We still have to deal with the matter as it unfolds."

He also says his client wasn't in overall command of the money spent on Nkandla.

"The management and control of the project has been with the Department of Public Works and the department hasn't taken any action against Makhanya."

In March, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma and his family unduly benefitted from the R246 million security upgrades at his private residence and that he should pay back some of the money.

The report also implicated Makhanya, saying he received R16,5 million from the controversial project.

The protector said Makhanya was de facto project manager for the entire upgrade and was the tail that wagged the government dog.

She said low-level officials may have been intimidated by the architect who had a direct line to Zuma.

On Thursday, the president, in a 20-page written response, said Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko must now determine whether he must repay some of the money spent on Nkandla.