The Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism is investigating the awarding of a gambling licence by the chief executive officer of the Northern Cape Gambling Board.
THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism is investigating the awarding of a gambling licence by the chief executive officer of the Northern Cape Gambling Board, Vincent Mothibi, while the board’s term of office had expired on March 31.
A bookmaker operating licence was awarded to Vengies Gaming (Pty) Ltd in Postmasburg on May 1, 2021, although a new board has not been appointed yet.
The bookmaker site application in Main Road, Postmasburg was approved for Vengies Gaming after the board had rejected the same bookmaker site application at the same address by Deeps Betting a few days earlier.
Deeps Betting objected to Vengies Gaming being awarded a bookmaker licence.
In terms of the Northern Cape Gambling Act, only the board can adjudicate, review, issue, grant or reject licences, where it is considered a criminal offence if these functions are delegated to another authority and it cannot be delegated to the CEO.
It is believed that no board meetings have taken place since last year.
In correspondence, Mothibi explained that as the CEO of the Northern Cape Gambling Board (NCGB), he was responsible for the board secretariat support.
He indicated that the operating licence was signed by the former chairperson of the NCGB, advocate I Steenkamp.
It was pointed out that in 2017 the NCGB resolved to grant bookmaker licences in Kimberley, Upington, Springbok, Kuruman, Kathu, Postmasburg and De Aar.
It was noted that since the board had been dissolved, all matters pertaining to licensing and/or issuance of licences would be held in abeyance until such time as a board had been appointed.
Vengies Gaming applied for a bookmaker licence in 2019, whereupon the application was made open for public inspection and objections during May 2019.
A public hearing was conducted in Postmasburg in February 2020, where Deeps Betting and Roll the Dice Trading (Pty) Ltd lodged objections.
The complaint by Deeps Betting related to the branding of the Vengies Gaming site as well as the socio-economic impact and proliferation of the gambling industry.
Roll the Dice Trading objected to Vengies Gaming branding the site before being granted approval as well as referring to their BEE status.
The NCGB convened a special meeting on March 3, 2020, where it did not approve the application for a site at erf no 158, 46 Main Road, Postmasburg for Deeps Betting trading as Scorebet.
It was resolved that the bookmaker site application was non-compliant in terms of the location of the gambling and betting premises.
“The board may not issue a licence to an applicant if the premises from which the licensed activities will take place are, in the opinion of the board, on or in premises which are situated within 500 metres of a school or a place of worship.”
It was indicated that in March 2020, the former chairperson of the gambling board, advocate Steenkamp, granted a temporary licence to Vengies Gaming.
On March 11, 2020, the bookmaker site application was approved for erf No 158, 46 Main Road, Postmasburg.
In July, the Northern Cape High Court granted an urgent interim interdict to prevent enforcing the recommendations of a public protector’s report into allegations of improper conduct and maladministration that were made against the former MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Maruping Lekwene.
Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane instructed the premier to take disciplinary steps against Lekwene for improper conduct relating to the appointment of the CEO of the NCGB, Mothibi.
It was pointed out that only the gambling board had the authority to appoint the CEO.
Mkhwebane noted that Mothibi did not have the requisite qualifications, or meet the job criteria, while no recruitment processes were followed.
She ordered that Mothibi’s appointment be placed under judicial review and that his appointment be declared invalid.
The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Ali Diteme, said yesterday that the department was investigating the licence that was awarded to Vengies Gaming.
He added that they were also in the process of finalising the appointment of the new gambling board members.
He added that the public protector’s report was still sub judice due to the interdict that was obtained by the affected parties.
“The department will have to await the decision of the court,” said Diteme.