Patel hands evidence in lottery probe over to police

National Lottery. Picture: GroundUp

The dossier contains evidence of what happened to Lottery funds given to Denzhe Primary Care to build a drug rehabilitation centre near Pretoria, among others.

A dossier of evidence gathered by forensic investigators appointed by Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) Minister Ebrahim Patel involving a dodgy R27.5 million rand Lottery grant has been handed to the police.

This was revealed by DTIC director-general Lionel October during a meeting of parliament’s Trade, Industry and Competition Portfolio Committee on Wednesday.

The dossier contains evidence of what happened to Lottery funds given to Denzhe Primary Care to build a drug rehabilitation centre near Pretoria. The centre has never been completed and over R20 million is unaccounted for.

Investigations into three other Lottery-funded funded projects totalling an additional R26 million are nearing completion, October told the committee.

October said the DTIC had received legal advice not to distribute the full report and to limit the amount of information made available to the public “to allow law enforcement to complete their investigation”.

October said the Denzhe report had been completed in August and handed to the minister. “He has accepted the recommendations and we are now in the next stage. We have now handed it to law enforcement to investigate,” he said. The other investigations, said October, were expected to be completed by 15 September.

October supplied some details of the projects being investigated and the amounts but did not name people involved. The projects he named were Denzhe Primary Care, Zibsimanzi, Life for Impact in the 21st Century, and I am Made for God’s Glory.

This graphic from a presentation to Parliament by Lionel October, the Director-General of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, shows which organisations connected to National Lotteries Commission COO Phillemon Letwaba are under investigation, 3 September 2020.

The projects are linked to Lottopreneur lawyer Lesley Ramulifho and National Lotteries Commission Chief Operating Officer Phillemon Letwaba, who has been on suspension since March.

In the case of Denzhe Primary care, a “hijacked NPO” was used to apply for Lotttery funds to build a drug rehabilitation centre near Pretoria.

GroundUp has revealed how Ramjulifho used Denzhe as his personal ATM, and also used R5 million of the Denzhe grant towards payment of a luxury home on an exclusive gated estate near Pretoria.

GroundUp earlier revealed how Letwaba’s brother, Johannes “Joe” Letwaba, was a director of Upbrand Properties at the time that the company signed a R15 million contract to build the rehab. After Letwaba’s involvement was exposed by GroundUp, he resigned and a first cousin of the Letwaba brothers, Kenneth Tomoletso Sithole, became the company’s sole director.

Zibsimanzi is a non-profit shelf company that was awarded R4.8 million rand by the Lottery within six months of Letwaba’s second wife, Rebotile Malomane, being appointed as a director. It is unclear what this project involved.

Life for Impact in the 21st Century received R10.1 million from the Lottery’s Arts, Culture and National Heritage sector just weeks after being bought off the shelf and new directors appointed. Themba Mabundza, one of the newly-appointed directors, is also a director of Zibsimanzi.

I Am Made for God’s Glory (IAM4GG), an NPO controlled by Ramulifho, received an R11 million grant for a sports stadium in Limpopo. GroundUp has been unable to find proof that it was ever built. Leaked bank statements have revealed how R2 million flowed from IAM4GG to Upbrand.

October said: “To guide the department through both the disciplinary cases and the civil and criminal investigations that will take place we have been advised to appoint a legal firm to guide the department. We are waiting for the State Legal Advisor to finalise the appointment of the law firm.”

“But the forensic report has already been handed over to the South African Police Services for investigation,” October said, as he wrapped up his brief presentation. “That investigation must be independent and we must respect the rights of everyone and allow due process to take place.

“I have been given legal advice to give no further indication of what the evidence is that may have been uncovered [or] what the findings are.”

  • This article has been republished with permission from GroundUp.

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