Internationally acclaimed actress Terry Pheto has denied any involvement in any fraud relating to funding by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).
Pheto, who was a lead actress in an Oscar-winning feature film, Tsotsi, and eight other people, including two lawyers, an accountant, a hotel group CEO and a former commissioner of the NLC, are being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in a multimillion-rand fraud scheme, which allegedly saw them obtaining properties through money fraudulently acquired from the NLC.
But Pheto denied this on Saturday, through a Twitter statement. "I am dismayed to discover that I am the subject of a SIU probe into allegations relating to funding by the NLC. I deny any involvement into the alleged scheme that has been reported on. I also had no prior knowledge of an application to obtain a preservation order against me and have had no sight of this order."
She added that she holds the law in high regard and will cooperate fully with the investigation in an open and transparent manner.
On Friday, the SIU was granted an order by the high court in Pretoria to seize nine luxury properties in Pretoria, Centurion, Hartbeespoort and Johannesburg, a BMW 420i and two Ocean Basket franchises in the East Rand worth a combined value of approximately R25 million belonging to the star and eight other people, five of whom are representatives of trust funds.
In a statement released by the SIU, Pheto, Lesley Ramulifho, Collin Tshisimba, Promise Kharivhe, Mashundu Shanduka, Charlotte Mampane, Jim Skosana, Botshelo Moloto and Rebotile Malomane allegedly bought the seized properties with monies obtained from the NLC under the auspices of grant funding.
The SIU said:
“The luxury properties, therefore, constitute proceeds of unlawful activities, hence, the application for the preservation order pending the final determination of the application for final forfeiture,” the unit said.
The SIU stated that it had been investigating offences which took place between January 1 2014 and November 6 2020.
Mampane served as the commissioner of the NLC for 10 years before resigning with immediate effect amid fraud allegations.
Ramulifho is a lawyer, who is supplying legal services to the NLC. He is reportedly under investigation along with members of his staff employed in his Pretoria law practice for allegedly receiving at least R60 million in lottery grants.
Tshisimba owns a management company, Ndavha Management, while Kharivhe was arrested by the Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team in Johannesburg last year and charged with fraud that emanated from an altered grant application submitted to the National Lotteries Board for funding in October 2018.