The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has threatened the Minister of Trade Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, to court over alleged corruption involving lottery-funded project which has been handed over to the Hawks for investigations.
The case report was put together by investigators appointed by Patel when clearance was granted after the initial allegations of corruption was made on members of the staff of NLC. The report involves Denzhe Primary Care, a non-profitable organization that was used to seek for grants up to R27.5 million successfully for the construction of a rehabilitation centre in Pretoria; However, the centre is incomplete and R20 million is unaccounted for.
The NLC recently had the insight on the ongoing corruption and mismanagement involving multi-million rand grant because Patel had been shadowed by the Ministry of Trade for a while. Further investigations have been carried out by the Hawks in a three lottery-funded project that will be handed over to the police. A letter was issued on the 11th of November to Patel for a 24 hours response with threats of court indictments on failure to meet up with the deadline.
The lawyers representing the NLC requested for a written undertaking from Patel that the case report filed will not be used to remove NLC from the board, stating that:
Until such time that our client has been allowed to study and seek legal advice on how to vindicate their constitutional rights including the right to subject the findings in the report to judicial review in the High Court if they are advised to do so."
Also, the letter demanded, "A complete forensic investigation report together with the portfolio of any evidence and/or documents in support of the findings."
Although it remains uncertain that Patel met up with the deadline for a response, however, a source with knowledge on the ongoing dispute affirmed that the lawyers of the minister have responded to the demands laid out. They also added that their client's constitutional rights have been breached as a result of the delay in response. Attorney MJ Maluleke wrote that:
the NLC had unsuccessfully engaged with the minister to ascertain the terms of reference and the scope of such investigation which are unknown to our client.
He also said,
In essence, you have condemned our clients to become sitting ducks awaiting the arrival of the law enforcement authorities to subject them to a probe based on a report they have never seen nor engaged with. This arbitrary conduct by yourself is detrimental to the constitutional rights of our client.
He went ahead to make note that:
The first time the NLC knew about the case report was after it had been to the Hawks during a virtual sitting of the portfolio committee for the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) on September 2nd 2020.
During the meeting, Director-General of DTIC Lionel October gave a broad outline of the investigation and also confirmed that the case had been handed over to the police for further investigation, this information came as a shock as the Chairperson of NLC, Alfred Nevhutanda and the Commissioner, Thabang Mampane were just privy to this knowledge for the first time.
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