Zuma's former architect representing himself at SIU trial to recover funds

Minenhle Makhanya is at the centre of the Zuma’s Nkandla residence upgrades which were overseen by the Department of Public Works at a cost of R246 million to the taxpayer.

Former President Jacob Zuma's private home in Nkandla, built at a cost of R246 million.  Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) trial to recover R155 million from former President Jacob Zuma’s architect, Minenhle Makhanya, started on Monday.

Makhanya is at the centre of the Zuma’s Nkandla residence upgrades which were overseen by the Department of Public Works at a cost of R246 million to the taxpayer.

The SIU Special Tribunal sitting in the Pietermaritzburg High Court will hear the week-long trial in the matter between Makhanya and the Department of Public Works.

Makhanya on Monday appeared in-camera before the Special Tribunal because of sensitive details involving former President Jacob Zuma’s security at his Nkandla residence.

Makhanya, who is said to have pocketed R16 million from the controversial Nkandla project, is representing himself because he’s too broke to pay his lawyers.

"Photographs, visuals, exit points, so it was felt that in the security considerations of Mr Zuma’s residence, the trial be held in-camera," SIU Tribunal spokesperson, Selby Makgotho said.

Advocate Vinay Gajoo, representing the SIU, has told the tribunal they will bring three witnesses - the chief investigator, the architect and the quantity surveyor.

Gajoo told the Special Tribunal that the matter had been in the courts since 2014 and needed to be brought to finality in the interest of justice.

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