Tribunal blocks former Lottery boss from selling farm bought with grant money

Order names about 20 people and companies linked to National Lotteries Commission dodgy deals

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Aerial photo of farm

An aerial view of Phillemon Letwaba’s farm from an estate agent advert. (fair use)

  • The Special Tribunal has blocked the sale of a farm belonging to Phillemon Letwaba.
  • The farm was bought using millions of rands from Lottery funds meant for good causes.
  • Over 20 companies or people are named in the Tribunal’s order.

The Special Tribunal has blocked the sale of a farm belonging to former National Lotteries Commission chief operating officer Phillemon Letwaba, which was purchased using millions of rands from Lottery funds.

Lottery funding was diverted from two multimillion-rand lottery grants, one intended to support Durban’s failed attempt to host the Commonwealth Games and the other a project to supply 200 boreholes in villages in several provinces.

Money from these grants was laundered through several different companies before finally being paid into the trust account of the conveyancing attorney handling the sale of the 400-hectare farm in Waterberg in Limpopo.

The modus operandi, where lottery grant recipients have chipped in millions, was used to pay for a Rolls Royce and a mansion in Pretoria for former NLC board chairman, Alfred Nevutanda.

The same method was also used to finance a home in Bryanston for Tsotsi star Terry Pheto and to purchase properties and luxury vehicles for several people.

Letwaba’s farm was originally advertised for sale for R7-million but is now on offer for R5-million, according to the SIU.

The farm “offers ample space for your livestock to graze and thrive”, according to the estate agent’s description when it first went on sale last year.

“In addition to the excellent grazing land, the farm also features two houses, staff quarters that can house ten people, a large equipment shed and a workshop,” according to the advert. It also has four boreholes, three grazing camps, three [storage] silos, a poultry house that can house 6,000 fowls and sties for 600 pigs.

The order freezing the farm from being sold was granted against Phillemon Letwaba and his brother Johannes Letwaba. It is registered under the Mosokodi Business Trust, whose trustees are the Letwaba brothers.

The farm is the third property linked to Letwaba that is under a preservation order preventing it from being sold. The others include his home in Marapyane in Mpumalanga and a luxury home in the Silverwood Estate in Pretoria. Letwaba’s pension has been frozen.

A luxury house in Bryanston belonging to Upbrand Properties, a company closely linked to Letwaba and his brother, Joe, has also been frozen. ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula and his wife originally put in a cash offer for R5.6-million on the house. But they withdrew and an identical cash offer was then submitted by Upbrand which bought the house. The minister lived in it briefly before suddenly moving out.

Mbalula and Letwaba were good friends at one stage but fell out. Letwaba’s wife and brother both claimed in affidavits when the preservation order was contested that R3-million paid towards the purchase of the house in Bryanston Johannesburg was a loan to Mbalula.

Two of the companies that launder the money used to pay for the farm are linked to Letwaba’s family. One is Redtaq, of which Letwaba’s brother, Thabo, and his cousin, Karabo Sithole, and his wife, Keneilwe Maboa, are all former directors. The other is Ironbridge Travelling. His wife Rebotile Makomane is the sole director, and Thabo Letwaba, Sithole and Maboa are also former directors of Ironbridge.

Both companies are currently undergoing de-registration for non-compliance with their statutory reporting.

Funds also came from Shadukani Holdings, whose owner, Mashudu Shandakani, allegedly laundered millions of rands from lottery grants. Shandukani built a school in Limpopo, which had to undergo repairs within a year. He is the subject of an SIU investigation and one of his properties is currently under a preservation order.

The order stopping the sale of the farm names several people as respondents who have been linked to the alleged misappropriation of Lottery funds meant for good causes to uplift poor and marginalised people and communities.

Among the people named in the order are Solly Siweya, who is close to Mbalula and is a friend of Letwaba’s. Siweya, who has been in several dodgy lottery grants, was a key person in the R80-million Commonwealth Games grant.

Another respondent is Themba Mabundza, a business associate of Letwaba’s. Mabundza has featured in several dodgy lottery grants, including one involving Letwaba’s wife, Rebotile Malomane, for a soccer tournament in Limpopo.

TOPICS:  National Lotteries Commission

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