SIU making progress in lottery corruption probes

More than a dozen investigations have been completed. The next step will be to seek orders against perpetrators from the Special Tribunal, a type of court

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More than a dozen investigations into corruption at the National Lotteries Commission have been completed by the Special Investigating Unit. Illustration: Lisa Nelson

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has completed more than a dozen investigations involving alleged National Lotteries Commission corruption, GroundUp has learned.

The SIU is expected to bring cases resulting from these investigations before the Special Tribunal, a type of court with the power to freeze the assets of people, companies and organisations implicated in corruption. (See: Expiry of judges’ contracts delays fight against corruption)

Among the dozen investigations which have been completed are some into dodgy multimillion grants that were highlighted in a presentation to Parliament by SIU head Advocate Andy Mothibi in March.

Mothibi told Parliament’s Trade, Industry and Competition Portfolio Committee then that the SIU had identified R300 million in misappropriated funds involving 12 grants it had so far investigated. He said the SIU was investigating about 50 grants.

Mothibi told Parliament that the first phase of the SIU’s investigations would be completed by the end of the month, and would be handed to President Cyril Ramaphosa “in April”. Dossiers of evidence gathered by the SIU would also be handed to the National Prosecuting Authority so that the people involved can be prosecuted, he said.

But Presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale said a week ago that the President had not yet received a copy of the report with the findings of the first phase of the SIU’s investigation into NLC corruption.

Mothibi’s presentation to Parliament laid bare a litany of fraud, money laundering and networks of corruption involving a current Lottery employee and his family, and two former Lottery board members.

Although he did not name them, Mothibi was referring to NLC Chief Operating Officer Phillemon Letwaba, former NLC chairperson Alfred Nevhutanda, and William Huma, who resigned as a board member late last year after being confronted with evidence of his alleged corruption. Mothibi also told MPs how hijacked non-profits and shelf companies had been used to loot the Lottery.

So far only one Lottery-related matter has come before the Tribunal since Ramaphosa issued a proclamation in November 2020.

This involved a preservation order against Inqaba Yokulinda, a non-profit organisation that received over R19-million to build an athletics track in Kimberley, an IT company, and five people, including Terrence Magogodela, the acting CEO of Athletics South Africa.

There are currently only two Lottery-related matters due to be heard by the Tribunal. One, involving Inqaba Yokulinda, is set down for 3 June. The other is an interdict, according to Selby Makgotho, the spokersperson for the Tribunal. He did not say what the interdict involved.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “The Tribunal is an important part of making sure that there is consequence management. We will refer all matters that are ready to be referred to the Tribunal as and when we are ready to do so.”

So far the SIU is the only law enforcement institution to consistently take action against Lottery corruption. Although it can freeze assets, via the Special Tribunal courts, it has no power to arrest or prosecute corrupt officials; that has to be done by the National Prosecuting Authority.

TOPICS:  National Lotteries Commission

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