Ramaphosa orders investigation of South Africa’s National Lotteries Commission

Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, has signed an executive order authorising the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe alleged corruption and maladministration of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).

Signed by President Ramaphosa on 20 October, the order came into effect when it was published in the Government Gazette on 6 November.

The Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act’s primary mandate is to recover and prevent financial losses to the state caused by acts of corruption, fraud and maladministration.

President Ramaphosa’s decision to involve the SIU comes following the ongoing reporting of corruption involving lottery grants running into hundreds of millions of rand, amid mounting political pressure and calls by civil society for the government to take action.

The proclamation covers offences “which took place between 1 January 2014 and the date of publication of this Proclamation, or which took place prior to 1 January 2014”. It also covers any offences after the publication’s date that are “relevant to, connected with, incidental or ancillary to the matters … or involve the same persons, entities or contracts investigated under authority of this Proclamation”.

In last Friday’s proclamation, Ramaphosa authorised the SIU to investigate NLC in several areas. These include a serious maladministration in connection with its affairs, improper or unlawful conduct by its employees or officials, unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property, unlawful, irregular or unapproved acquisitive acts, transactions, measures or practices having a bearing upon state property, intentional or negligent loss of public money or damage to public property, offences in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, and unlawful or improper conduct by any person, which has caused or may cause serious harm to the interests of the public – “or any category thereof”.

The proclamation comes hard on the heels of the recent formation of the Hawks to investigate lottery corruption. The task team began its investigation after receiving a complaint from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) in September, according to Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale. She added that all criminal complaints involving lottery corruption that were lodged with the police are now being consolidated for the task team to investigate.

Corruption Watch, which has been outspoken on lottery corruption and is monitoring the appointment of a new NLC board chairman, welcomed the proclamation.

Karam Singh, Corruption Watch’s head of legal and investigations, said: “We are very pleased to see a proclamation in the NLC matter. It is something we have tracked given the stories for many years of alleged corruption. We hope the investigation can address the serious allegations of financial irregularities as reported. There are issues of systemic political patronage that swirl around the NLC and hopefully a well-focused investigation will lead to accountability for this.”

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