Lotteries watchdog on the hunt for a new commissioner

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  • The National Lotteries Commission will recruit and appoint a new commissioner by October, according to the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition.
  • This comes after Cabinet approved the appointment of Barney Pityana as the new chair of the NLC.
  • The appointment of a new commissioner will replace Thabang Mampane, whose term of office expires at the end of September.

The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) is looking to appoint and recruit a new commissioner by October, according to the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition.

The department's statement on Tuesday follows an announcement by Cabinet on Monday that it approved the appointment of former South African Human Rights Commission chair Barney Pityana to chair the troubled lotteries watchdog.

This comes after the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) uncovered R300 million in corrupt payments made from the commission to purported non-profit organisations, which paid for cars and private homes.

The SIU also conducted a raid of the NLC offices in the Northern Cape and froze the R27 million mansion of former NLC chair Professor Alfred Nevhutanda.

The incumbent NLC commissioner, Thabang Mampane, cuts a contentious figure in the quest to fight corruption at the commission.

According to a report from GroundUp, the new board of the NLC asked Mampane to suspend the NLC chief operating officer Phillemon Ledwaba amid allegations of money laundering and abuse of his position, but she failed to comply with the instruction. Ledwaba was cleared of his charges in an internal inquiry, but the new board brought them back.

READ | Cabinet picks Barney Pityana to chair troubled lottery commission

The department's statement said Mampane's term of office would expire at the end of September and that the NLC has issued a call for applications for the position. 

"The NLC board has taken the first steps towards the recruitment of a Commissioner of the NLC. The board has approved a recruitment plan with the intention being to effect an appointment by 1 October 2022," the statement said.

Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition Ebrahim Patel said in the statement that since law enforcement agencies have acted on the preliminary findings of the SIU, further action could be expected as more information about wrong-doing becomes available.

"I look forward to the new board ensuring that all monies corruptly taken by individuals are recovered fully and that implicated persons are held to account by the law enforcement agencies," Patel said.  

READ | SIU freezes R27m mansion linked to ex-lotteries boss

The statement said with a new board and a new chair, the NLC was well-equipped to execute its statutory function as a regulator of the lotteries, and overseer of lottery proceeds.

Following a request from the new board of the NLC, Patel has extended the licence of the current National Lottery operator for two years.

"Ithuba is the current lotteries operator and its licence was originally due to expire on 31 May 2023. The board in framing its request and advice to the minister had taken into account several factors including representations made by Ithuba that its business has been severely affected by the exceptional circumstances created by Covid-19," the statement said. 

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