SIU considers default judgment after Nkandla architect fails to show up in court

The Public Servants Association has welcomed the closure of the 'death trap' Musina magistrate's court. Stock photo.
The Public Servants Association has welcomed the closure of the 'death trap' Musina magistrate's court. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/3D Renderings

Architect Minenhle Makhanya was a no-show at the Pietermaritzburg high court on Friday, when his “Nkandla” hearing was supposed to resume.

And now the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which is attempting to claw back some of the more than R200m spent on former president Jacob Zuma’s homestead, is considering applying for a default judgment against him.

The hearing, which began on Monday, is being presided over by Special Tribunal judge Kate Pillay.

She has already heard most of the evidence of an SIU special forensic investigator who testified as to how the upgrade project ballooned in price from an approved R27.8m to about R216m under Makhanya's watch.

She said the entire project had been mismanaged and that the architect had not got approval for over-expenditure and over-designs from the department of public works.

The hearing is being held in camera because confidential details relating to security at the homestead are being disclosed.

Makhanya is unrepresented and has claimed he has no money to pay lawyers.

On Thursday, when he was expected to begin cross-examining the witness, Makhanya failed to appear in court, his wife advising the judge’s clerk that he had been hospitalised the previous evening and that he needed two days to recover.

But a medical certificate produced at the request of the SIU, indicated that he only needed 24 hours and Pillay ordered that the matter should proceed on Friday.

Special Tribunal spokesperson Selby Makgotho said he did not appear.

“The plaintiff (the SIU) is contemplating applying for a default judgment and for the costs for yesterday [Thursday] and today [Friday] unless he provides good reasons as to why he was not in court.”

The trial has now been adjourned until January next year.

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