Johannesburg - There is no bond on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead, as the president claimed in parliament this week.
City Press can reveal that no bond is registered against the Zuma family’s property, titled portion 27 of reserve 19 of farm number 15 839, Nkandla.
This after an emotional Zuma told parliament on Thursday: “I took the decision to expand my home and I built my home with more rondavels, more than once. And I fenced my home. And I engaged the bank and I’m still paying a bond on my first phase of my home.”
And while Zuma’s claims about how his Nkandla home was financed raised more questions than they answered, the police refused an access to information application this week to provide proof that the property had been declared a national key point.
Public works has used the National Key Points Act of 1980 to justify refusing to release information on what exactly it spent R248m on to upgrade Zuma’s compound.
City Press has been unable to locate public records to support the president’s claim that the Nkandla property is bonded.
The land on which Zuma’s home stands is owned by the Ingonyama Trust, headed by King Goodwill Zwelithini, which manages about 32% of all land in KwaZulu-Natal on behalf of the state for the benefit of its occupants.
City Press traced deeds records for Zuma’s property that show there is no bond registered against it.
An “aggrieved” Zuma told parliament he and his family had paid for their own home.
The deed document shows the Ingonyama Trust as the owner of Zuma’s property.
There is no indication of a bond registered to the property.
Belinda Benson, the Ingonyama Trust’s property manager, confirmed that the deeds office records uncovered by City Press were for the Zuma homestead.
She said as far as she was aware, no bond had been registered against the property.
“Over that particular portion, as it stands right now, there is no bond. Whether it hasn’t been registered yet or if it’s still in the process (of being registered) or whether the president has elected to bond a different property, we don’t know,” she said.
According to her, the Ingonyama Trust had to get involved whenever a bond was registered against a property owned by the trust by providing documentation to conveyancers and banks.
She said it was possible Zuma could have funded the development from a bond on another property. It was also possible for a third party to take out a bond to finance developments on Ingonyama Trust land.
But if a bond was taken out on trust land property, they would know about it.
Zuma told parliament twice, however, that he was dealing with the “bond”.
The president’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, was asked to explain the contradiction.
He was also offered an opportunity to point out any factual errors in our information and to more fully explain the president’s comments, like who the bond might be with.
He acknowledged receipt of our questions but said on Friday that he could not comment “off the cuff”. He was not sure when he could answer.
Searches on a leading online database of official property data reveal no bonds are registered to Zuma as an individual in Nkandla.
There also appear to be no records of bonds in the names of his close family members that relate to a property in Nkandla.
The last time Zuma made a public declaration of property was in his 2004 declaration of interests in parliament, when he registered his use of Nkandla as “permission to occupy”.
The funding of Zuma’s initial construction of rondavels at Nkandla in 2000 occupied a significant part of the fraud and corruption trial against his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.
Judge Hilary Squires found that the cost of the development “would plainly be more than Zuma could afford if he still needed Shaik’s help to live on his remuneration as deputy president” and that Zuma had a need for extra money, “not only to meet his current needs but also to pay for this acquisition (of Nkandla)”.
When Shaik found out the builder was charging Zuma R2.4m to construct the rondavels, he (Shaik) asked the builder “if Zuma (thought) money grew on trees”.
Forensic evidence submitted to court showed Zuma couldn’t pay for the construction himself and needed the assistance of friends such as Shaik and businessman Vivian Reddy to pay the builder.
Squires found that at least R250 000 from French arms deal company Thales – which won the R1.3bn tender to provide technology to the navy’s new corvette warships – went towards paying for Zuma’s homestead.
A French fax implicated Zuma in agreeing to receive a R500 000 bribe per year for protecting Thales against an arms deal probe and for promoting their interests in South Africa.
Bruce Myburgh, a property specialist from Myburgh Attorneys in Pretoria, said: “A person cannot take out a bond on land they do not own. Only the person or entity registered at the deed office as the deed owner can take out such a bond on the property.”
He said this applied to property held in trust too.
– Additional reporting by Adriaan Basson
- City Press