Doctor in Lottery circumcision scandal fails to challenge probe

By Tania Broughton

29 February 2024

Graphic supplied by Special Investigating Unit

A Pretoria doctor involved in a questionable Lottery deal has failed in his legal challenge against an SIU probe into his finances.

The SIU is investigating how his company paid money to an entity with links to former NLC COO Phillemon Letwaba.

Dr John Marite, who heads up Right Play Health Services, also failed in 2023 to get an interdict against the SIU when he claimed “harassment and intimidation”.

Pretoria High Court Acting Judge Hein Snyman ruled that the SIU was acting within its powers to question Marite.

The SIU wanted to establish how it came about that he was paid R7-million from a R20-million NLC grant paid to Zibsimode, a non-profit company. And how R2-million of that money was paid over to Iron Bridge Travel and Events, an entity owned by Letwaba’s wife and a further R2-million paid to Ndzhuku Trading, owned by Malwandla Solly Siweya, who apparently introduced Marite to the “deal”.

Judge Snyman dismissed the interdict application, with punitive costs in September 2023.

This month the judge dismissed an application by Marite for leave to appeal to a full bench.

Judge Snyman said there were no prospects of success on appeal and the powers of the SIU had already been confirmed in other court judgments.

Read the judgment here

Marite’s version

Marite, in his application for the interdict, said he had been approached by Siweya, who wanted a referral for someone who could provide circumcision medical services. Marite, as a medical practitioner, through Right Play Health Services, confirmed he could assist.

He had then been introduced to Zibsimode and submitted a proposal which had been accepted. Marite claimed he only became aware of the Lottery funding proposal when he was contacted “out of the blue” and asked for an invoice so he could proceed with providing the service.

He was advised that Zibsimode had acquired funding from the NLC.

In his ruling on the interdict application, Judge Snyman said, “Zibsimode apparently specifically instructed Dr Marite to make use of two other companies as subcontractors, namely Ironbridge and Ndzhuku Trading. It appears that neither rendered any services, notwithstanding allegedly being paid by Right Play after it received payment from Zibisimode.”

In a statement released on 28 February 2024, the SIU said Zibsimode had links to former NLC board chairperson Alfred Nevhutanda. Zibsimode had received grant funding of about R20.2-million from the NLC for the roll out of a traditional circumcision campaign and it had contracted Right Play Health to provide the service.

Marite had invoiced Zibsimode, and R7.2 million was paid into the bank account of Right Play Health Services.

Two days later, Right Play deposited just over R2-million to Ironbridge, owned by relatives of Letwaba, “without a sign of any work being done”.

Right Play then transferred another R2-million to Ndzhuku Trading, owned by Siweya.

Ndzhuku also received three payments from Zibsimode totalling R4.1-million.

The SIU said the initial ruling, and now the refusal of leave to appeal, paved the way for it to finalise its investigations into the matter and to refer any evidence pointing to criminal conduct to the National Prosecuting Authority for further action.