South Africa’s first lady Tobeka Madiba Zuma has voiced out her anger on a snake catcher for rendering unsolicited service and presenting an “extravagant invoice” to her.
It all started when 47-year-old Jaco Dercksen was contracted by the Tobeka Madiba Zuma Foundation in December, asking him to remove snakes around one of Zuma’s apartments in Nkandla homestead.
Dercksen confessed that at first he was hesitant to take the job because he “didn’t want to be held responsible for anything that went wrong, “but she told me that I came highly recommended and insisted that I help.” Dercksen later changed his mind and charged the family R19 000 and a R9 000 deposit was paid to him.
Dercksen, a worker with Zini Snake Removals said he went to the president’s homestead on 18th December to clean up house number three – the Madiba House. He further revealed that he “inspected the Madiba house and the premises around the house and did not find any snakes. He added that on 19th December, he submitted a report and made recommendations.”
Two days later, Decksen said, he received a phone call from the foundation informing him they had found a scorpion and three snakes and he should return to remove them. He said that he promised the foundation that he would be on standby the whole of December and if they needed him, he will go there personally to remove the snakes.
On December 22, Dercksen landed the homestead with a group of six men who did a thorough inspection. He said, “when we got there we received an instruction to fumigate the whole of Nkandla which is 13 dwellings…”. And this time he charged the family R52,412. “I did not ask for a deposit of R26,000 because there was already a relationship of trust from the first job,” he claimed.
After the inspection, the snake catcher said, “we found three blind snakes, three brown house snakes and a puff adder. We also found a nest of eggs.”
He said after the job, the president thanked him in a letter but things turned the other way when Dercksen revealed that he was threatened for speaking to the media about the transaction. According to him, an e-mail was sent to him via the first lady’s lawyers telling him about their intention to sue him for defamation.
“They are threatening to take me to the high court for ruining their name. They want me to stop speaking to the media about this matter. I am not scared of them, I did a proper job there,” Dercksen said.
Confirming the incidence via her spokesperson Laila Saada, First lady Tobeka Madiba Zuma admitted that she contracted Dercksen for the job. But that “The TMZ Foundation has nothing to do with this transaction” and that a total of R19 271.00 was paid for snake inspection, fumigation and snake removal; 50% was paid and a further 50% was finalised less than a week after
“We were surprised to receive an invoice in days apart and this time for R51 492.00, nearly triple the amount which had been paid to him, for the same service,” Saada added.
Dercksen is also accused of threatening the first lady and her family in a news report. He claimed that he is yet to collect a balance of R52,000 for the services rendered in the presidential homestead.