Dodgy lawyer Lesley Ramulifho still doing work for Lottery
Lawyer represented NLC in salaries dispute this year
Pretoria lawyer Lesley Ramulifho is under investigation for corruption involving sizeable Lottery grants.
But he has continued to supply legal services to the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).
Ramulifho was the instructing attorney and briefed an advocate to represent the NLC in salary dispute hearings as late as April 2022.
Neither the NLC nor Ramulifho have responded to our questions on the matter.
This was revealed in an arbitration award by Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) Commissioner Nathalie Willemse on 22 May.
The award states that Ramulifho Attorneys — Ramulifho’s law firm — represented the NLC in the matter and briefed an advocate to represent the NLC. Advocate Ben Ridgard, who represented the NLC in the arbitration matter, confirmed that Ramulifho’s law firm “was my instructing attorney”.
The award involved a long-running salary dispute between the NLC and two trade unions, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) and the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW). The dispute had dragged on since 2014 before being settled in favour of the unions’ members, after several hearings, the most recent of which was in April this year.
The NLC did not respond to emailed questions about Ramulifho’s work for the Commission. Ramulifho was emailed a copy of the same questions sent to the NLC, asking him for comment. He did not respond either.
There was also no response to an email sent for the attention of the NLC board via board member Willie Hofmeyr.
Organisations linked to Ramulifho and members of his staff employed in his Pretoria law practice have received at least R60 million in Lottery grants. Among these are an R27.5 million grant to Denzhe Primary Care, a hijacked nonprofit organisation, for a drug rehabilitation centre near Pretoria, where at least R20 million is unaccounted for.
GroundUp has reported how Ramulifho used the Denzhe grants as his personal ATM, and to help pay for a luxury home he bought for himself on a luxury Pretoria “country estate”. We have also reported how Ramulifho forged documents in an affidavit he filed in a case he launched against GroundUp.
Responding to a parliamentary question in July 2020, NLC Commissioner Thabang Mampane said that neither Ramulifho nor his firm were on the NLC panel of approved attorneys.
Nevertheless, she confirmed that “Ramulifho Inc. has rendered legal services for labour-related issues to the then National Lotteries Board now the NLC. This was approximately around 2014, prior to the advent of the [NLC] panel of legal service providers.”
What Mampane didn’t disclose is that though neither Ramulifho nor his law firm were on the NLC’s panel of lawyers, Ramulifho had continued doing legal work for the NLC. (Lawyers must go through a tender process to get onto the panel.)
This was only revealed in a response almost 18 months later, in March 2021, by Mampane to another Parliamentary question, in which she confirmed that Ramulifho Inc Attorneys had been paid R5.4 million by the NLC for legal work between the 2016-17 and 2019-20 financial years.
Now it seems he has continued to represent the NLC, right up until April this year.
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