National Lotteries Commission: Call to axe board amid corruption claims

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DA MP Mat Cuthbert.
DA MP Mat Cuthbert.
Jan Gerber/News24
  • The DA wants Minister Ebrahim Patel to fire the NLC board and place the entity under administration.
  • The portfolio committee on trade, industry and competition has heard a probe into corruption in the disbursement of funds led to a police investigation.
  • The DA says the alleged corruption happened under the current board's watch.

The DA has called on Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel to fire the board of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) and to place the entity under administration.

This after the portfolio committee on trade, industry and competition heard on Wednesday that the Department of Trade and Industry was investigating corruption in the disbursement of lottery funds at four projects, involving the NLC's suspended COO Philemon Letwaba and his friends and relatives.

One of these cases, that of Denzhe Primary Care, had already been referred to the police for a criminal investigation, while a report on the other three cases was expected within the fortnight.

The investigation focuses on the following allegations:
  • Denzhe Primary Care: It's alleged funds were improperly distributed to a hijacked non-profit organisation, called Denzhe Primary Care, through a Proactive Funding transfer. Denzhe received funding to build a new drug rehabilitation centre and the facility was still incomplete. The amount involved was R27.5 million.
  • Zibsimazi: It's alleged that Zibsimazi's director was related to an employee of the NLC. It was further alleged that the company was set up in May 2017 and awarded the funding in November 2017. The amount involved was R4.8 million.
  • Life for Impact: It's alleged the NPO had one common director with Zibsimazi. It's also alleged that a shelf company was created and awarded the NLC funding six weeks after it was created. The amount involved was R10.1 million.
  • I am Made for God's Glory: The NPO received R11m and it's alleged that R2m of that was paid to a private company owned by a person related to an employee of the NLC.

"Each of the aforementioned cases occurred under the current leadership of the NLC and yet they have remained untouched," said DA MP Mat Cuthbert in a statement released on Thursday.

At Wednesday's meeting, Cuthbert's colleague Dean Macpherson asked NLC board chairperson Alfred Nevuthanda if he would resign.

"The answer is a big 'no'. No," responded Nevhuthanda.

"The minister is the one who will tell me to resign."

ALSO READ | Police probing 4 alleged corrupt projects at lottery commission - but board chair will not resign

In his statement, Cuthbert said: "This shows that the NLC leadership refuse to take responsibility for corruption that has engulfed the organisation or for the damage they have inflicted on it."

"There can be no other option for Minister Patel than to show leadership and bring this sorry crisis in the NLC to an end, once and for all," Cuthbert said.

The investigation followed numerous media reports, notably by GroundUp, detailing alleged malfeasance in the distribution of lottery funds. The NLC and a shadowy NGO tried to muzzle GroundUp.  

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