The NLC is facing a barrage of scrutiny over projects it has funded

After Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel handed over a dossier supposedly containing evidence of corruption relating to National Lottery grants to the South African police service (SAPS), the Democratic Alliance (DA) have called for the entire board to be removed and the entity to be placed under administration.

The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has faced a barrage of scrutiny over funding millions of rands in grants to organisations involved in controversial, incomplete projects, with the fund having ceased to publish the names of benefactors since 2018.

LOTTO FUNDS UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

The NLC launched an independent investigation into allegations of maladministration, fraud, and corruption within the entity in early February 2020, but the commission has refused to reveal the details of what exactly the investigation is probing. Patel has taken a keen interest in what is going on at the NLC, and has launched his own probe into the allegations of corruption continuously levelled against the fund.

This investigation led to the handover of a report into corruption to SAPS containing, among other indictments, details of Lottery funds given to Denzhe Primary Care to build a drug rehabilitation centre near Pretoria. The centre has never been completed and over R20 million is unaccounted for.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTIC) director-general Lionel October announced the completion of the dossier on Wednesday 2 September and also named the Zibsimanzi, Life for Impact in the 21st Century, and I am Made for God’s Glory projects that have been the subject of growing suspicion.

“I have been given legal advice to give no further indication of what the evidence is that may have been uncovered [or] what the findings are,” he said.

The projects are linked to Lotto-preneur lawyer Lesley Ramulifho and National Lotteries Commission Chief Operating Officer Phillemon Letwaba, who has been on suspension since March

DA CALL FOR EXTREME ACTION REGARDING NLC

Mat Cuthbert, the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry and Economic Development, said that the latest developments should be enough to see the Lotto board dissolved and the entity placed under administration.

“The Democratic Alliance (DA) again calls on Minister Ebrahim Patel to fire the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) board and place the entity under administration after yesterday’s meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Trade, Industry and Competition. These allegations included the hijacking of a drug rehabilitation centre that was never completed to shelf companies (linked to the NLC hierarchy) that received grants. Each of the aforementioned cases occurred under the current leadership of the NLC and yet they have remained untouched.”

DA REQUEST RESIGNATION OF LOTTO CHAIRPERSON

Cuthbert said that members of the DA had asked the chairperson of the NLC to resign, but that the suggestion was politely declined.

“During yesterday’s meeting my colleague, Dean Macpherson, asked the Chairperson of the NLC, Prof. Alfred Nevuthanda whether or not he would resign on account of this investigation and he responded by saying ‘A big N-O’. There can be no other option for Minister Patel than to show leadership and bring this sorry crisis in the NLC to and end, once and for all.”

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