Investigators want to know how the former president landed posh Joburg home
Zondo Commission investigators are probing the circumstances under which former president Jacob Zuma ended up living in a palatial house in the plush suburb of Forest Town in Johannesburg, after he was thrown out of government by then head of state Thabo Mbeki.
The investigators approached former ANC MP and businesswoman Sizani Dlamini-dubazana to assist them in their probe into Zuma, who is at the centre of state capture allegations. In her affidavit, Dlamini-dubazana, a former ANC underground intelligence operative, said that it was former Kwazulu-natal premier and current Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, who requested her to allow the former president to rent the R3,6-million property in June 2005.
Dlamini-dubazana used her company Hola Recruitment and Selection Services to acquire a bond with Absa for the property, which some Zuma family members still occupy despite a court application seeking to force them to vacate.
“Shortly after former president Jacob Zuma was dismissed as deputy president of South Africa in June 2005, I was approached by Khulubuse Zuma and Dr Zweli Mkhize, who asked if the former president could occupy and rent the premises,” she said.
“When I purchased the property, it was vacant and I was required to construct the security guardhouse. As a result, it was occupied by former president
To date, the property has not been purchased by Mr Khulubuse Zuma
Zuma and members of his family from around August 2005 after the renovations had been completed. Subsequent to Mr Zuma taking occupation, additional security features were installed,” she added.
The Forest Town crib became popular when Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, known as Khwezi, accused him of raping her in it in 2005. Zuma was acquitted on the rape charge in 2006.
Mbeki dismissed Zuma after he was implicated in the arms deal following the conviction of his former financial advisor, Schabir Shaik for fraud.
Dlamini-dubazana said Zuma was renting with an option to buy. In September 2009, a sale agreement was signed by Dlamini-dubazana and Khulubuse, who was representing the Zuma Trust at the time. She said she cancelled the sale after Khulubuse failed to secure a bank loan.
“To date, the property has not been purchased by Mr Khulubuse Zuma or former president Zuma,” she said.
Phumzile Zuma, Duduzane’s younger sister, whose mother is the former president’s late wife Kate, is said to be still living on the property, which is close to a million rand in arrears relating to rates, taxes and services.
Dlamini-dubazana noted in the affidavit that in November 2018, she commenced legal action against Khulubuse to compel the occupants of the house to make it available for property agents to market it.
When contacted, Dubazana-dlamini said: “I can confirm that I was approached by the investigators of the Zondo Commission and I deposed an affidavit. I want to leave it at that.”
Zuma’s spokesperson Vukile Mathabela did not respond to requests for comment, while Khulubuse could not be reached for comment. Health spokesperson Popo Maja and the department’s Lwazi Manzi, the media liaison officer in the minister’s office, could also not be reached for comment.
In November 2018 Dubazana-dlamini approached the Joburg High Court to gain access to the property. In her papers, Dlamini-dubazana claimed that her house was repossessed by Absa. She was seeking relief to sell the house herself to avoid financial losses after the bank secured a court judgment to attach it.
According to Dlamini-dubazana, Phumzile had offered to purchase the house for an amount of R3,8-million in 2018, which she rejected, citing an earlier agreement to buy the house for R7,5-million.
“This was clearly completely unacceptable to me especially having regard to the agreement we had entered into in 2009 when his or her company was going to purchase the property for R7,5-million. In addition, the offer did not cover the balance of the bond,” Dlamini-dubazana said in court papers.
The probe into the Forest Town mansion comes amid Zuma’s defiance of the Constitutional Court’s decision that he appears before the Zondo Commission. Last week, Zuma’s legal representatives, Eric Mabuza and Muzi Sikhakhane, dumped Zuma as he prepares to appear in court next month in connection with the arms deal.
This came in the wake of the Supreme Court of Appeal ordering him to repay the state at least R15-million in legal fees in the arms deal matter.