South Africa

MINISTERIAL COMPLEX CAPTURE

Free Rider — Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s rent-free stay in presidential estate cost taxpayers R3.7-million

Free Rider — Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s rent-free stay in presidential estate cost taxpayers R3.7-million
From left: Former national police commissioner Khehla Sitole. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Jaco Marais) | Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Photo: Gallo Images / Phill Magakoe) | Former Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko. (Photo: Gallo Images / Beeld / Deon Raath)

The suspended former Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has lived rent-and-expense-free in the luxury ​​Bryntirion ministerial estate in Pretoria. The property is meant for the president and ministers. Her stay has cost taxpayers R3.7-million.

The Office of the Public Protector has confirmed through spokesperson Oupa Segalwe that it has paid R3.7-million for the accommodation of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), which oversees the Bryntirion complex in Pretoria. This was made up of R1.9-million in the 2021/22 financial year and R1.8-million in previous years.

In March 2022, Daily Maverick revealed that Mkhwebane had moved into the exclusive ​​Bryntirion estate in Pretoria in 2017. There, she lived rent-free in a R60,000-a-month luxury home before moving, in April 2021, to a smaller, three-bedroomed duplex on the estate at R11,000 a month.

This was in spite of Mkhwebane receiving a housing allowance as part of her roughly R2.3-million annual salary.

Earlier, Daily Maverick reported that in February 2017, four months after her appointment, Mkhwebane moved into the ministerial estate, effectively becoming a neighbour to then president Jacob Zuma and his executive.

The Bryntirion Estate is made up of  28 properties and incorporates the president’s residence, Mahlamba Ndlopfu, as well as OR Tambo House (the deputy president’s residence), 15 tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course and a helipad.

Everything, including DStv, internet, gardening and security, is free.

DPWI spokesperson Zara Nicholson told Daily Maverick that Mkhwebane “had to be moved” to a government “flat” after her security was “reassessed” by the police in July 2020.

According to Nicholson, SAPS had been of the opinion that “security measures in place around the Public Protector must continue”.

She was, however, unable to elaborate on why the PP “had to be removed” from her previous house. The office of the Public Protector had signed a lease with the DPWI and paid rent, Nicholson also confirmed.

Segalwe has since confirmed that the PP’s office has requested from newly appointed SAPS national commissioner Fannie Masemola, a record of threats as determined by former commissioner Khehla Sitole. The office of the PP had no record of the assessment, he confirmed.

Records show the unhealthy arrangement began in 2017 when newly appointed Minister of Public Works, Nathi Nhleko (Minister of Police until March 2017), authorised Mkhwebane’s occupation of the house due to “a heightened risk level”.

In 2017, the then Department of Public Works was requested by the SAPS’s Office of the Divisional Commissioner: Protection Services, to “provide a secured residence for the Public Protector”.

The head of the protection services at the time happened to be Lt-Gen Khehla Sitole.

Nine months later, in November 2017, Sitole was appointed national police commissioner by Jacob Zuma.

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela told Daily Maverick that the provision of government housing had not been part of her contract. Madonsela was provided with police protection only a year after her appointment and later moved, at her own expense, to a security estate.

Meanwhile, News24  has reported that Mkhwebane purchased a string of properties, one only a short distance from her office in Pretoria.

Journalist Kyle Cowan revealed that Mkhwebane bought a R4.7-million property in an upmarket estate in Tshwane in February 2022, and a R2.5-million unit in Ballito, KZN, in May 2019. Both properties are bonded to the value of R3.7-million and R2.2-million respectively.

As the head of an independent Chapter Nine institution, Mkhwebane is not entitled to live in the Bryntirion estate, alongside those she is employed to oversee. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • David Bristow says:

    Quelle horreur!!

  • Geoff Young says:

    Apart from the blatant misuse of public funds there’s also the conflict of interest with being Zuma’s neighbour. Great reporting, thank you DM!

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Is there no end to the machinations of this horrendous individual. Rotten to the core, a master of lies, arrogance, deceit and incompetence, and totally unfit for purpose. Another typical “cadre” deployment chosen by the most vile and corrupt degenerates to do their bidding. And yet there are those, like Dali Mpofu, who will go to any length to delay/defeat justice, and prevent this long suffering country from moving forward to a better future for its citizens.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    It is obvious that foul play was happening in this case also. I really hope that sometime someone in the law enforcement agencies will start to investigate and act on it.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    The police could do a supposed security assessment on the wannabe zuma stooge who feigned being a public protector,but they couldn’t defend Colonel Kinnear!!!

  • Johan Buys says:

    hopefully SARS is paying attention to this for fringe benefit tax. I’m not sure whether SARS’ claim ranks ahead of the numerous cost orders awarded against her excellency

  • Benjamin Cockram says:

    The day she was appointed by Zuma it was clear problems were coming. This at the time when Madonsela was spearheading the fight against state capture and came to end of her tenure. It was so obvious then and so obvious now the maneuverings to fight the impeachment serve and end to extract more value from the fiskus and detract attention from the ongoing state capture project which is fighting for its life.
    There is far too much at stake for the cadres and the whole patronage network that extends down to nearly every rural village in the country. They are not going down without a fight.

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