South African president defends $23M upgrade to private estate; reveals wife was raped by home invaders

South African President Jacob Zuma said Monday that his wife's rape during a home invasion in the 1990s prompted major security renovations to his private homestead in Nkandla. The $23 million worth of upgrades have been the subject of an investigation into whether the president misused funds and "unduly benefited" from the upgrades that also reportedly included a pool and amphitheater.
By JC Finley  |  May 5, 2014 at 1:11 PM
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 5 (UPI) -- South African President Jacob Zuma revealed Monday during an African National Congress breakfast meeting that one of his wives was raped at their homestead in Nkandla when he was a member of the Executive Committee, sometime between 1994 and 1999.

Zuma offered this personal information as rationale for extensive and expensive "security upgrading" to his private homestead. The upgrades have become known as the "Nkandla scandal" and prompted an investigation into whether Zuma misused public funds.

A report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma "unduly benefited" from the $23 million renovations -- which included non-security features such as a swimming pool and amphitheater -- and recommended that he and his family pay back a portion of the costs.

An ad hoc committee is investigating Madonsela's findings.

Zuma has maintained he did nothing wrong, telling ANC members Monday:

"There were issues that called for security, particularly in my homestead. My homestead was burned twice during violence and secondly criminals came and raped my wife during the time I was still the MEC."

Zuma's revelation of his wife's rape comes days ahead of South Africa's general elections, which will determine whether Zuma's ANC party maintains power.

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