Dodgy Lottery: Judge dismisses attempt to block SIU investigating lottery millions

Gauteng High Court has dismissed Ramulifho associate Liesl Moses’s interdict to keep the SIU from investigating her

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File photo: Ashraf Hendricks

A person implicated in the alleged misappropriation of R27.7 million from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has failed in her court bid to stop the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) from investigating or questioning her.

Liesl Joy Moses and attorney Lesley Ramulifho allegedly received the money from the NLC in 2016 on behalf of Denzhe Primary Care. These funds were purportedly to build a drug rehabilitation centre, and a sports centre in Pretoria. But neither project got off the ground.

GroundUp has reported on a number of suspect NLC-funded projects involving Ramulifho and Moses. On Wednesday, we revealed that Ndobela Lamola Inc (NL Inc) botched three investigations into corruption at the NLC involving the Denzhe matter. Ronald Lamola was a director at NL Inc when two of these reports were published, and subsequently resigned to take up his role as Minister of Justice and Correctional Services.

In September 2020, the Director-General for Trade and Industry asked the SIU to investigate the matter.

Moses launched urgent court proceedings in the Pretoria High Court after she received a summons from the SIU at the end of May this year. Moses was represented by Ramulifho’s firm, Ramulifho Inc, in her application. According to a response to a question in Parliament, Ramulifho Inc won R5.4 million in business from the NLC between 2016 and 2020.

The summons notified her that the SIU was investigating allegations of corruption, irregularities, maladministration and improper or unlawful conduct of the NLC employees together with payments made by NLC, and that they wished to question Moses and get documents from her to establish if there was anything unlawful about the funding that was received.

Moses asked for a 14-day postponement, which was granted by the SIU. However, the SIU refused to grant her another postponement and she headed to court. Moses sought an urgent interdict, to keep the SIU from investigating her, pending the outcome of her application to challenge the SIU’s powers.

Moses argued that the SIU was “exceeding and abusing” its authority by conducting a fishing expedition, and usurping the powers of the South African Police Service.

The SIU opposed the application and on Friday 23 July, Judge Selby Baqwa ruled against Moses, saying the legal challenge was not urgent. According to Baqwa “the relief sought not being linked to relevant legislative provision is bad in law and falls to be dismissed.”

He said that none of the rights protected in terms of the Bill of Rights were infringed by the statutory provisions contained in the SIU Act, and her gripe – that she did not have the right to remain silent – did not exist “both in fact and in law”.

He said Moses had not been candid in her founding affidavit and had not fully disclosed the facts about why the SIU wanted to question her in connection with the funding given to the non-profit organisation.

Judge Baqwa said Moses might not eventually be charged criminally, but even if she was “the powers of the SIU are sufficiently circumscribed in that information gathered cannot be used in a trial against” her.

He dismissed the interdict application, ordering her to pay the legal costs of the SIU.

The SIU said in a statement that it welcomed the judgment.

TOPICS:  Corruption National Lotteries Commission

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