Gambling board probe

2014-09-17 00:00

THE KZN Gaming and Betting Board — on the cusp of rolling out a multi-million-rand casino mall betting set-up — is under investigation by the public protector.

Allegations of maladministration and “deliberate abuse of public funds” are being probed by Thuli Madonsela’s office in an investigation nearing completion. This comes as the board holds public hearings on the controversial gambling proposal which, if approved, would see “mini casinos” rolled out in KwaZulu-Natal shopping malls.

The Witness can reveal Madonsela’s investigation includes allegations against board chairperson Sibusisiwe Zulu.

Spokesperson Kgalalelo Masibi said the complaint received by the public protector relates to the allegations the board was not doing its business in accordance with the KwaZulu-Natal Gaming and Betting Act. “There were several instances where the board flouted the provisions of the law. The other allegation was there was a deliberate abuse of public funds by the board members,” said Masibi.

When contacted for comment, Zulu referred The Witness to Treasury spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa and denied being the chairperson of the board. “I am not aware of any allegation of board members being intimidated. I am only a member of the board,” she said.

However, Maphisa confirmed Zulu is the chairperson of the board.

The Witness attempted to contact Zulu to find out why she denied being the board chairperson, but she had switched off her phone.

Maphisa said the office of the MEC was not aware of the allegations.

“We will welcome any substantiated information regarding reasonable suspicions of corruption or acts of collusion of any kind that seek to interrupt the work that is presently under way with the objective of regulating the gambling industry in KZN,” he said.

As the probe continues, an alleged employee claimed maladministration, nepotism and corruption in an anonymous letter addressed to the office of the Public Protector, the Premier and Provincial Treasury.

In the letter, of which The Witness has a copy, the author details how they feared reprisal for blowing the whistle. The Witness sent the claims made in the letter to the office of the public protector, which confirmed that some of the claims were forming part of their investigation.

Premier’s Office spokesperson Ndabezinhle Sibiya said he was not aware of the letter.

“If there are any allegations of maladministration, we are glad that they were reported to the office of the public protector. We are confident that the public protector will deal with the matter accordingly.”

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