Mampara of the Week: Nathi Nhleko, South African Minister of Police

Does the Minister of Police take the South African public for idiots? Clearly he does. In attempting to justify the indefensible, he has clearly treated the rest of us as imbeciles.

Ultimately the sordid Nkandlagate saga will define Zuma’s legacy much like Watergate defined Tricky Dicky Nixon’s and Monica underscored Clinton’s term as president.

Mampara – Afrikaans for supreme idiot, an imbecile. Its onomatopoeic property especially when pronounced gutturally engenders it with more potency than the English idiot; hence my usage.

Let us recapitulate for those that have been in a coma for the past 5 years. Zuma’s personal homestead is located in the backwoods of KwaZulu Natal, a nondescript quintessential African village called Nkandla. This fact would have remained in obscurity and a footnote to history had it not been that this private residence required a security upgrade.

Main picture: The Nkandla “compound” from MyBroadband

So far so good.

For the corrupt officials at the Public Works Department, tenderpreneurs and even Zuma’s private architect, their eyes glistened with dollar signs. This project would rapidly spiral into the goose that would lay the golden egg for them all including Mr Zuma.

Nkandla#2In tandem a realisation soon dawned that a mere security upgrade would generate insufficient funds for all the snouts in the feeding trough. For various tenuous and tendentious reasons, an underground nuclear proof shelters was included in spite of the fact that his main – read official – residences were not required to have such protection.

Then to strain incredulity further, these security measures transmogrified into a visitor’s centre, an amphitheatre, a swimming pool, a Zulu cattle kraal and a chicken run. In total all of these modifications, extensions and upgrades would cost the South African taxpayer R250million in a country where the median monthly wage is R5 000 and a palatial house R5m.

The swimming pool adjacent to the main house which Nhleko cliams if a Fire Pool to be used in cases of emergency

The swimming pool adjacent to the main house which Nhleko cliams if a Fire Pool to be used in cases of emergency

In spite of a comprehensive cogent report by the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela highlighting the fact that the bulk of upgrades were devoid of any connection with security and demanding that the President refund the money, Jacob Zuma made a “hospital pass.” He appointed Nathi Nhleko to determine the amount if any, that he, Mr Zuma, should have to repay for non-security upgrades.

What was Mr Nhleko’s strategy?

Chicken-Coop-Security feature to keep chickens from disrupting advanced security systems

Chicken-Coop-Security feature to keep chickens from disrupting advanced security systems

Go for broke.

Vigorously defending the requirement for a swimming pool as constituting a Fire Pool to be used in an emergency as the “huts” in the compound have thatch roofs, he similarly belaboured the point on the need for a cattle kraal and hen house.

During his extensive presentation in Parliament, Mr Nhleko himself at some points appeared to be embarrassed at the frivolous defences that he was erecting as a justification.



Moreover in order to underline the seriousness of the security issue, the Minister of Police then announced that the “security upgrades” for incomplete.

In this regard, is Mr Nhleko referring to the fact that a long stretch of the security fence has fallen down some time ago and has not been repaired?


More likely, in my humble opinion, is that Nathi is referring to the need to build a tennis and a squash court. Furthermore, high on his list of missing features, is a nuclear proof underground snooker room.
Jacob Zuma might only have five years of education but he is astute. Nathi Nhleko has compromised his integrity for his boss’ sake. But what he has also done, is to permit additional non-security upgrades to be made all under the aegis of security.

An essential security feature to stop animals from causing security problems

An essential security feature to stop animals from causing security problems

How clever!

For protecting your boss Nathi, you deserve a medal but for your personal morality, believability and trustworthiness to do the right thing, you are totally compromised and thus do not deserve the position as Minister of Police.

A security feature to ensure that protocol, physical and information security imperatives are observed

A security feature to ensure that protocol, physical and information security imperatives are observed

On second thoughts, Nathi, I will unreservedly forgive you if you can provide me with some excuses when I am next in trouble. But please don’t make them so purile.


  1. Other than in tin-pot, corrupt, third World dictatorships, nowhere in the World are heads of state permitted completely to refurbish their own properties to this extent at the expense of the tax payer. Heads of state are expected to stay in accommodation provided by the State for the duration of their tenure. Reasonable security upgrades are, in some democracies, provided for a head of state post his or her tenure. What we are seeing in South Africa is simply a regression to tribalism where the chief dictates what he wants, gets it and to hell with his subjects, who are there to see to his every whim. We are simply back in the middle ages and despite the best efforts of many good people and the mechanics of all our Constitutional agencies and the safeguards the Constitution provides, this slime-ball continues to get away with it. Clever he is not – sly and slimy he is. He is the best example of how power corrupts.

    • Hi Nigel, What is most disheartening is that none of the good guys in the ANC are standing up to oppose this from happening. What do that say about when the good men do nothing?

    • Hi Vickie, The issue of what will define the legacy of a leader was an overarching issue in this case. Malfeasance on a grand scale by the South African President including a charge of rape immediately prior to his appointment will define his Presidency rather than any other action however effective they might have been been in other aspects. Similarly even though I personally rate Bill Clinton as an effective American President, his extra marital affairs including the Monica Lewinsky one, will always obtain more publicity that his efficacy as President. Unfortunately for South African, the Nkandlagate episode is merely the low point of a dismal display is an absymal Presidency. During his term, aprt from the rank corruption swirling around his closest aides, he himself has had another child out of wedlock, his 21st, with a daughter of a personal friend and marrying his fifth wife. Hence the analogy to the legacy with two American President

    • Hi Vickie, The Nkandlagate scandal does not relate to a land overdevelopment issue at all. Instead it related to corruption on a grand scale. Nkandla is the President’s personal property in rural Kwu-Zulu Natal. He has two official residents; one in Pretoria/ Tshwane & the other in Cape Town. He is entitled to reasonable security upgrades to his personal property. In Nelson Mandela’s case, the State spent about $1 million. Instead in the case of Jacob Zuma, the state spend R250million of which 95% did not relate to security at all. As such the President is liable to pay that amount back. Instead what he did was to nominate the Minister of Police to justify why 100% of the expenditure relates to security, We than had the farcical situation of why it was necessary to replace the door handles with gold plated one’s, why a chicken coup was required for security reasons et al. Eventually even the MInister was giggling at the risible explanations that he hinself was making for every single piece of non-security expenditure.

      Prior to being voted as President he was charged with corrupt. One of his first acts when appointed was to close down the unit investigating him, the Scorpions. That is equivalent to shutting down the FBI because they possess incriminating evidence against Obama.

      As another person’s comments on this article state, Zuma is acting in a manner similar to other tin-pot dictators

      In the case of the failed rape case, the female is 40 years younger than himself and the daughter of a long-time friend.

      Like in all such cases, including this one, he claims that it is the Zulu tradition that allows him to perform such acts.


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