Home South African A storm is brewing in the country’s lottery industry

A storm is brewing in the country’s lottery industry

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A storm is brewing at the National Lotteries Commission as the selection for the up to R200 billion operating licence remains in limbo.

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A STORM is brewing at the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) as the selection for the up to R200 billion operating licence remains in limbo.

The process should have been started in February last year, and be completed by June next year.

Sources at the NLC claim there are orchestrated moves by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTIC) to align preferred bidders for the operating licence. The winner stands to gain from the lucrative industry.

The bid process time-lines indicate that evaluation of received applications should have been completed last month, but this had not happened and the DTIC was silent on the matter.

This comes after NLC chief operating officer Philemon Letwaba was acquitted and exonerated of charges of misappropriating more than R45 million. However, the same charges were then brought to Parliament without the background of the disciplinary process.

“The minister (Ebrahim Patel) has delayed filling up old board positions. We suspect this is to leverage the next operator for the operating licence, which is between R150bn to R200bn,” a source told Business Report.

Suspicion has also been cast on the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), whose investigator, Humbulani Gideon Funyufunyu, a chief forensic investigator at the unit, was severely reprimanded by disciplinary process chairman advocate Chris Erasmus for acquitting Letwaba on all charges of personally benefiting from NLC funds.

According to recent media reports, the SIU says it has identified R300m in grants syphoned off and allegedly used to pay for cars, luxury homes and properties.

The reports point to fraud, money laundering and networks of corruption involving Letwaba, his family, former board chairperson Alfred Nevhutanda, and former board member William Huma.

The SIU was reporting to Parliament’s Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee on its investigation, which began in November 2020 after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a proclamation empowering it to probe alleged corruption involving the NLC.

“The SIU investigation has uncovered a web of corruption related to NLC funding and flow of funds to NLC officials, board members and their family members. The SIU is pursuing all individuals involved in the syphoning of NLC money,” the SIU tweeted during the presentation.

Sources at the NLC said the parliamentary reporting process was flawed because the report on the disciplinary process was not presented and the acquittal of Letwaba was subsequently not presented to the House.

“When Letwaba was acquitted, they ran to Parliament to run fresh charges, that is contempt of Parliament. The minister and the SIU have transcripts of the disciplinary process, why were they not presented? There is a serious capturing of the NLC going on,“ a source said.

The source said the process to advertise for the licence had been delayed since September last year because the new operator needed to have time and capital to put systems in place.

This is a developing story.

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