Authorities Suspend South African Lottery Boss
As a corruption probe heats up, the head of the South African National Lotteries Commission (NLC), Phillemon Letwaba has been suspended from his role. This, after a recommendation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which is currently examining suspected corruption within the Commission.
After the Commission appointed audit group Sekela Xabiso to investigate improper spending, Letwaba took a leave of absence for a 17-month period. Some say that he was sent home so that he could not interfere with the investigation. He has continued to receive a basic monthly salary of R265,000 a month during this “leave of absence”
Sekela Xabiso was hired “to institute an independent investigation into allegations of improper use of funds intended for good causes,” according to the NLC.
So far, Sekela Xabison has been paid just under R10 million for the investigation.
President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a presidential decree last November, ordering the SIU to begin investigating claims of corruption in the NLC.
Letwaba recently returned to work from his “leave of absence”, a fact which didn’t go down well with Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel, whose office oversees the Lottery.
In July, the Minister asked the NLC for a copy of the decision where the Board authorized Letwaba’s return to his role as head of the Commission.
When the Commission couldn’t produce such a document, and following continued pressure by the SIU, the NLC suspended Letwaba just three months after his return. Provincial Lottery managers were told that Letwaba would be away from the Commission “for a while”
Anonymous sources were quoted in local news outlets such as All Africa, saying that the SIU demanded that Letwaba be suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry, following evidence that was handed to the Commission.
In a recent interview to with Stephen Grootes at Newzroom Afrika, Letwaba, referring to himself in the third person said: “The NLC is not investigating the COO. The NLC is investigating the granting of funds to NGOs and other organizations.”