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South Africa: President’s Home Overhaul ‘Unconscionable’

Pretoria — The excessive amount spent by government in the overhaul of President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla home was unconscionable, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Wednesday.

"The expenditure incurred by the state, including buildings and other items installed by the DPW (department of public works), many of which went beyond what was reasonably required for the president's security was unconscionable, excessive and caused a misappropriation of public funds," she said.

"The failure to spend state funds prudently is a contravention of section 195 of the Constitution and sections of the Public Finance Management Act."

She was briefing reporters in Pretoria as she released a report on her probe into the Nkandla security upgrade.

Madonsela said her investigations followed seven complaints lodged between December 2011 and November 2012.

The initial complaint was from an unidentified member of the public seeking veracity over a 2011 newspaper report alleging the lavish upgrades.

Madonsela said that during the upgrading process, many additions were made leading to R215 million which had already been spent, while outstanding work was currently estimated at R36 million.

This would bring the envisaged total to R246 million.

Among other concerns, the people who complained wanted Madonsela to find out whether any funds had been transferred from other critical projects for the Nkandla revamp to take place.

They also wanted to know how such an amount would be spent on a government employee and the possible abuse of executive privileges.

Some complainants wanted Madonsela to probe if the allocation of funds for a private home which would not remain within the state's ownership represented irregular expenditure.

Madonsela found that critical service delivery programmes were sacrificed and money was diverted towards upgrades to Zuma's homestead.

"Funds were reallocated from the inner city regeneration project and the dolomite risk management programme of the department of public works," Mandonsela said in her voluminous report, titled "Secure In Comfort".

"Due to lack of proper demand management and planning, service delivery programmes of the department of public works were negatively affected."

Madonsela said the conduct of the department of public works was in violation of Section 237 of the Constitution and the Batho Pele White Paper.

Madonsela's investigation took about two years, exceeding the one-year period she had set for the composite analysis.

She said the delay could partly be attributed to general delays in accessing information held by some government departments on the Nkandla projects.

She found that Zuma and his family unduly benefited from the costly upgrades.

"It is common cause that in the name of security, government built for the president and his family in his private [home], a visitors' centre, cattle kraal and chicken run, swimming pool, and amphitheatre among others," she said.

"The president and his family clearly benefited from this."

Madonsela also found that Zuma's former neighbours were unlawfully moved at the state's expense. The relocations cost government at least R8 million.

In December, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said the neighbouring families were moved because they posed a security threat to the president.

On Wednesday, Madonsela said the various measures undertaken by the PWD went beyond what was reasonably required for Zuma's security.

She said the construction of a visitors' centre, "an expensive cattle kraal with a culvert and chicken run", a swimming pool, an amphitheatre, marquee area, some of the paving and the neighbours' relocation were not provided for in Cabinet policy and the police security evaluations report.

Madonsela said some of the upgrades at Zuma's homestead could have been done in a manner that benefited the broader community.

"The failure to explore more economic and community-inclusive options to accommodate the discretional security-related needs constitutes improper conduct and maladministration," she said.

Projects such as helipads and the private clinic -- the role of which could have been fulfilled by a mobile clinic -- could have beefed up capacity at the local medical facility.

Madonsela said the construction of the permanent, expensive one-roomed police staff quarters could have been located at a centralised police station for the community.

The Protector found Zuma had not misled Parliament when he said his family built its own houses and the state had not constructed the structures.

"I have accepted the evidence that he addressed Parliament in good faith and was not thinking about the visitors' centre, but his family dwelling, when he made the statement," Madonsela said.

"It appears to have been a bona fide mistake and I am accordingly unable to find that his conduct was in violation of ... the executive ethics code," Madonsela said in her report.

Madonsela said she expected Zuma to have acted to curtail the runaway expenditure when news of the exorbitant spending broke in December 2009.

"His failure to act in protection of state resources constitutes a violation of paragraph 2 of the executive ethics code and accordingly amounts to conduct that is inconsistent with his office as a member of cabinet, as contemplated by Section 96 of the Constitution."

Madonsela recommended that Zuma pay back a percentage of the upgrades.

"The president is to take steps with the assistance of the National Treasury and the SA Police Service to determine the reasonable cost of the measures implemented by the DPW at his private residence that do not relate to security," she said in her report.

"[Zuma is to] pay a reasonable percentage of the cost of the measures".

Madonsela said the amount to be paid back should be based on the cost of the installation of some or all of the items that were not accepted as security measures.

She also said Zuma must report to the National Assembly "on his comments and actions on this report" within 14 days.

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South Africa: Pistorius Case – Victim Shot in Defensive Position

Pretoria — Reeva Steenkamp was in a defensive position when she was hit by the last shots Oscar Pistorius fired at her through a locked toilet door, a ballistics expert testified in the paralympic athlete's murder trial on Wednesday.

"She was in a defensive position," Captain Chris Mangena told the High Court in Pretoria, bending forward in the witness stand and crossing his arms in front of his chest and face in demonstration.

Mangena said the first shot Pistorius fired struck a standing Steenkamp in her hip -- according to the height of the wound and the bullet hole in the door -- while the second missed her and ricocheted.

"Between the first shot and the second shot there is a break," he added.

Explaining that the expanding "Black Talon" bullets Pistorius used were designed to cause maximum damage to human tissue, Mangena said the impact of the shot to her hip flung Steenkamp onto a magazine rack in the toilet cubicle.

"By then she was in a seated position with her back towards the wall," he added.

He said, according to his findings, that the blonde model would have had both hands over her head, with the left and right hand across each other.

"Now, how do we determine that?" Mangena asked, then explained that Steenkamp had an entrance and exit wound on her right arm and that this arm was raised because bits of flesh transferred to the black vest she was wearing.

Bullet fragments also damaged the vest -- further proof that the arm was in front of her chest.

She had a wound to her left hand where it was hit by the same bullet that struck her in the head, fracturing her skull.

"After this wound was inflicted, My Lady, she dropped immediately," said Mangena.

He told the court that the height of the four holes in the door and the trajectory of the bullets indicated that Pistorius was probably not wearing his prosthetic legs when he fired the shots that killed his girlfriend.

This is consistent with the plea statement of the sprinter nicknamed "Blade Runner" who denies intending to kill Steenkamp, contending that he believed there was an intruder in the toilet cubicle.

According to his version, he put on his prostheses after the shooting when he discovered that Steenkamp was not in bed, and then used a cricket bat to break open the door.

But last week another police forensics expert testified that the height and angle of the bat marks suggested Steenkamp was also on his stumps when he wielded the bat.

Pistorius's defence lawyer Barry Roux challenged that testimony and on Wednesday did the same with Mangena's, on several counts. He told the ballistics expert that, if his reconstruction of the shooting were accurate, Steenkamp would have sustained injuries on the inside of her hand from fragments of bullet and bone that exited her head wound.

"My Lady, I disagree with that," Mangena said, looking puzzled.

Roux asked why Mangena failed to perform tests on marks left on her body by wood splinters from the door to see how far from the door Steenkamp had been, and suggested sarcastically that perhaps he could do so now, a year later.

He also put it to the witness that contrary to his testimony Pistorius had shot in a so-called double tap rhythm, firing two shots in rapid succession, then paused and then fired two more in the same manner.

Again, Mangena disagreed.

State prosecutor Gerrie Nel suggested that the timing of the shots instead fitted with the testimony of one of Pistorius's neighbours who said she heard screams and then a shot, followed after a short pause by three more.

"Michelle Burger, the first witness, said she heard the following: 'a shot, a pause, a shot, shot, shot," said Nel.

Mangena answered: "My Lady, that is possible. You have one shot, a break and the other three shots, it is possible," said Mangena.

Throughout his testimony, Pistorius sat with his head clutched in his hands.

The State then called to the witness stand a mobile phone expert who testified that Pistorius had visited porn and used car websites not long before Steenkamp died.

Colonel Mark Sale said data on the iPad 3 and an iPad 2 found on the scene the histories had the same type of content. It showed that Pistorius searched the porn website at 6.30pm on February 13, 2013, and later looked at cars including an Aston Martin Rapide R.

After Sale's testimony, Nel was granted an adjournment until Monday to allow the State to make final witness consultations as it prepares to wrap up its case.

"We have reached this juncture in the trial, My Lady, where the State is wrapping up our evidence and we are contemplating wrapping up our case."

The State intended calling about five more witnesses, he said.

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