South Africa’s National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has accused the country’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of including “several inconsistencies” following its damming investigation update into around 50 allegations of irregular allocation of funds.
The NLC also disagrees with the tone of the SIU’s social media reporting, which it says is leading members of the public to assume negative conclusions of the investigation before a final report has been presented to the President.
Addressing the presentation on social media, the NLC said it would not publicly outline the concerns it was referring to but instead will raise them with the SIU.
The NLC said it is committed to “openness and transparency” and it welcomed checks and balances for “regulating lotteries and changing the lives of the disadvantaged South Africans”.
The SIU presentation was delivered to parliament by the head of the unit, Andy Mothibi, on March 2, 2022, and included a list of ongoing money laundering and conflict of interest investigations into former NLC board members.
Already the SIU has identified R300m (€17.81m) in misappropriated grants intended for public good causes.
Additionally, there are details of investigations into senior officials siphoning off money, the “hijacking of non-profit organisations, and other financial investigations into NLC charity partners projects that represented “no value for money” or other maladministration, according to the SIU.
The SIU is in the process of hiring quantity surveyors and engineers to conduct a “value for money exercise” on the unfinished buildings constructed by non-profit organisations supported by the NLC “for the purposes of recovery through civil litigation”.
Ten identified criminal referrals against NLC officials and non-profits will be finalised and sent to the National Prosecuting Authority by March 31, 2022.
The presentation only represents the first phase of investigations for the SIU based on allegations it received in the latter part of 2021 and will be finalised on June 30, 2022.
The second phase of the investigation will look into 23 new allegations, bringing the total to around 50, relating to the irregular allocation of funds by the NLC to unqualified beneficiaries, and will be undertaken between March and November 2022.
Separately, the SIU will also “further investigate maladministration in relation to the investment of funds in the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund”.
Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s second-largest political party, said the investigation shows “industrial-scale looting” went on, while the political party in charge of South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC), “did everything in its power to protect the NLC leadership”.
The DA accused the ANC of trying to silence its concerns while assisting the NLC trying to escape accountability, and “smearing journalists” that initially investigated the allegations.
The DA is urging the South African Police Services' Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) and the NPA to “act swiftly and decisively against these shameless individuals who have stolen money meant to uplift the most marginalised in our society”.
The President of South Africa, a member of the ANC, approved anti-corruption investigators to look into allegations of the misuse of charity funds by the country’s NLC in 2020, following sustained political pressure from the DA.