Court asked to force lotto to honour R20m grant
Pretoria - The North Gauteng High Court is being asked to force the National Lotteries Board to honour a R20.4m grant that it withdrew barely a month after awarding.
According to a press release by Adams and Adams on Tuesday, papers have been lodged demanding the setting aside of the decision to withdraw the grant made to the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy.
In an affidavit submitted to the court, Molteno's chief executive Masennya Dikotla claims that it was awarded the grant on June 10.
The money was for a project that would have resulted in the provision of 500 mobile libraries with 250 000 books to areas that did not have library facilities, he said.
However, the term of office of the distributing agency which approved the grant ended on July 9.
Dikotla said Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies authorised members of the National Lotteries Board (NLB) to act as an interim distributing agency while a new distribution agency was found.
Molteno was informed that its grant had been withdrawn because, "due to the current budget constraints of the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF), projects of this magnitude and extent cannot be funded".
He said requests for information made in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act had been ignored.
Dikotla said he doubted that there were budgetary constraints.
"We seriously doubt the truth of this, as the award was made and withdrawn in the space of a couple of months within the same financial year.
"We are also particularly suspicious considering the Supreme Court judgment of September 2011 that stated the national lottery had underspent by R6bn [in 2009]."
Documents Molteno submitted to the court show that the NLDTF had more than R2bn at the end of March 2011 which had not been distributed.
Molteno's lawyer Jac Marais said that according to the National Lotteries Act, Davies could reverse grants made only in exceptional circumstances, such as illegal activities being carried out. In Molteno's case, those circumstances did not apply.
"We suspect that there are other NGOs whose grants may also have been illegally withdrawn," said Marais.
NLB spokesperson Sershan Naidoo said he could not comment on Molteno's court action, other than to say that "we are studying Molteno's [court] papers and we will respond directly to them".
Last month, 400 members of various non-profit organisations staged a protest outside the NLB's offices demanding that it face a forensic audit and that board members be subjected to a lifestyle audit.