Nkandla: new hi-res aerial imagery revealed

New, high-resolution bird's eye imagery of Jacob Zuma’s rural homestead at Nkandla lays bare the extent of the taxpayer-funded upgrades to the president’s private estate. By Duncan McLeod.

President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma

Just days after government warned the media against publishing images of President Jacob Zuma’s controversial Nkandla private homestead, TechCentral — working in collaboration with Eyewitness News — can exclusively reveal detailed new bird’s eye imagery of the estate, upgrades to which have cost taxpayers R208m.

The high-resolution imagery, obtained by TechCentral and available for download below this article, reveals the extent of development at Nkandla in the past three years, offering a view of some of its more controversial features — including twin helipads, an AstroTurf sports field and a vast entertainment area.

It also shows the controversial tarring of the road running past the estate, which connects the towns of Nkandla and Kranskop. The road upgrade reportedly cost R582m.

The imagery also appears to show that construction at the Nkandla estate has been completed.

An image of President Jacob Zuma's then much more modest-looking Nkandla homestead, believed to be from May 2009

An image, believed to be from May 2009, of President Jacob Zuma’s then much more modest Nkandla homestead. Download a higher resolution version of this image at the end of this article

Aerial image of President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead, taken in August 2013

An image of the Nkandla homestead, taken in August 2013 – note the original rondavels in centre-right of this picture. Download a higher resolution version of this image at the end of this article

The latest image, above, which was taken in August 2013, is not yet available through Google Earth or Google Maps, both of which are still showing an image believed to have been taken in May 2009, at around the time Zuma took office. That image can be viewed using the following GPS coordinates: 28°50’42.73″ S 31°05’59.47″ E.

Online mapping services, including Google Maps, may be updated with the new imagery in the coming months.

Microsoft’s Bing Maps has what appears to be a slightly more recent image, taken by a different imaging provider. It shows construction work related to the upgrade to Nkandla already under way (see below). The date of the Bing image is not known.

An image available through Bing Maps ... date unknown

An image available through Bing Maps … date unknown

In 2010, the Nkandla homestead was declared a national key point by police minister Nathi Mthethwa. Last week, state security minister Siyabonga Cwele asked the media to stop publishing images of Nkandla as, he claimed, they posed a security breach in terms of the apartheid-era National Key Points Act.

“In terms of the National Key Points Act, no one, including those in the media, is allowed to take images and publicise images even pointing where the possible security breaches are,” Cwele said.

The minister said he was making a request to the media, but that government would consider those who ignored it to be breaking the law.

“At this stage, we are just appealing. We are appealing to the South African public. It is not done anywhere; no country does this. We have not seen the images of the White House showing where the security features are. It is not done in any democracy, in any country,” Cwele was quoted as saying.

His comments prompted defiance in the media, with many newspapers publishing large images of Nkandla on their front pages the following day.  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

Download the full-resolution images:

Nkandla, taken in August 2013

Nkandla, taken in August 2013

Nkandla, believed to have been taken in May 2009

Nkandla, believed to have been taken in May 2009

Share this article

  • Davebee

    Further examples of the Animal Farm we have sadly descended into for the past 19 years.
    Yet still the ‘masses’ will turn out in their millions to vote this clique straight back into their predictably insanely corrupt ways come 2014.
    It is Mugabeism run riot!

  • WhoisJohanGalt

    Thank you

  • Michele Marshall

    Yes, lived in Zimbabwe for eight years. Zuma is a fine example of a typical africa leader. Viva ANC viva.

  • Lumina SS

    Just another rich bastard like the rest of super-rich. Their gain was someone else’s huge lost.

  • Lunsriem

    Eish, da nother road for Sanral to e-tag.

  • Percy Debeila

    I dont understant the Mugabe comparison. This is only Zuma’s second term as president…Mugabe on the otherhand has been in power for the past 25years+. A simplistic dictator does not compare to a corrupt president.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    No… this road is the reason Sanral needs to e-tag others :)

  • Grant Slater

    The Bing imagery date is 23/9/2010.

  • suitophobia

    You can see what this looks like on Waytag Maps (Digital Globe Imagery). It’s a different stage of building. His (unofficial) waytag is !jacob.tag (www.waytag.com/!jacob.tag).

  • Vuyani Billy Nyathikazi

    I think Eskom will have to build another power station just to “power
    up” Nkandla. In fact, it probably has it’s own power station underground
    hidden below the wine cellar, which is hidden below the 47 seater home
    theatre, which is hidden under the bunker, which is hidden under the
    underground waterfall and private stream, which is hidden under the
    underground mini golf course….

  • Davebee

    Get a copy of Animal Farm Percy and look up the passage about ‘some are more equal than others’
    Mugabism… NOT Mugabe’s numerous crooked elections. Mugabeism is the ‘ism’ that keeps fanning the tired old embers of long gone Colonialism, the so-called return-of-the oppressors chestnut and finally, when all else fails, never happened slavery.
    Yet all the while stealing those self-same ‘masses’ blind via corruption and keeping critical media at bay by Diktat. The new ANC bulldozed/inspired secrecy ‘law’ will see to that….So I’m sorry to say Percy your term ‘simplistic dictator’ fits right in with events in the Rainbow Nation even as we speak.
    JUST AS WE PREDICTED and long, long before Uhuru day in 1994.

  • Dave Baker

    First off the White House isnt a private residence and to equate Zuma with a US Pres is dumb.

    Secondly there is tons of stuff on White House Security
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/21/protecting-the-white-house_n_2727755.html

    Thirdly US Presidents and UK PMs Homes are extensively photographed.
    Not long ago a couple of million $ got spent on security at George Bush’s private residence. (couple of million) Despite it being pretyy low key still the people got annoyed

  • Fanandala

    You should not have superimposed the Jacob tag, but one saying “Nuke here”!

  • Peter Duncan

    The fact that in reality it is possible to very easily obtain images of this place shows that the concern is more about covering ANC corruption than security.

  • Peter Duncan

    Zuma is moving in the right direction, emphasis in right, to reach where Mugabe is

  • Dawid Loubser

    Using this and other reference imagery, Nkandla has now been mapped in detail on OpenStreetMap: http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=17/-28.84428/31.09769

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