5 August 2022
Embattled National Lotteries Commission chief operations officer Phillemon Letwaba has been suspended for the third time and will now face another disciplinary inquiry.
About four months ago Letwaba returned to work after a disciplinary hearing controversially cleared him of money laundering and abusing his position to enrich himself and his family.
He now faces the same charges, including contraventions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, as well as sections of the Lotteries Act and the Public Finance Management Act. GroundUp understands that he will face new additional charges too.
The latest disciplinary inquiry was postponed after Letwaba complained about the advocate chosen to chair the hearing, according to a source with knowledge of what transpired. The hearing is expected to proceed shortly but under a different chairperson.
The latest inquiry comes about two weeks after the board of the NLC issued Letwaba with a letter instructing him to give reasons as to why he should not be placed on precautionary suspension.
According to a report, his lawyers responded that he had been already been cleared by the previous inquiry.
GroundUp has not been able to contact the lawyers to confirm this.
Letwaba was suspended in October last year on the recommendation of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which has been investigating Lottery corruption, just three months after he returned to work after a 17-month “leave of absence”. He was paid a performance bonus of nearly R1-million in spite of not being at work.
Letwaba went on his “leave of absence” soon after the NLC announced in February 2020 that it had appointed audit firm Sekela Xabiso “to institute an independent investigation into allegations of improper use of funds intended for good causes”. The outcome of this investigation is yet to be made public.
Letwaba did not respond to a request from GroundUp for comment on his suspension, sent to him via email, Signal and WhatsApp.
The NLC has appointed Nkhenso Njoni, senior manager of financial accounting, as its acting chief operations officer from 28 July to 31 August 2022. Letwaba’s five-year contract with the NLC expires at the end of November.