An executive order authorising the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) to investigate suspected corruption and maladministration of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has been signed by Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa.
The order, signed by President Ramaphosa on 20 October, came into force when it was published on 6 November in the Government Gazette.
The primary mandate of the Special Investigation Units and Special Tribunals Act is to recover and escape state financial damages incurred by acts of corruption, fraud and maladministration.
The decision of President Ramaphosa to involve the SIU comes after the ongoing reporting of corruption involving lottery grants running into hundreds of millions of rands, despite increasing political pressure and civil society calls for action by the government.
The proclamation shall cover 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 includes any offences after the date of publication 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.”
Ramaphosa allowed the SIU to investigate NLC in many areas in last Friday’s proclamation. These include serious maladministration, unethical or unlawful conduct by its personnel or officials in connection with its affairs, unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property, unlawful, irregular or unapproved acquisitive activities, transactions, measures or practises affecting state property, deliberate or reckless loss of public money or harm to public property
The proclamation comes hard on the heels of the Hawks’ recent creation to investigate corruption in the lottery. According to Hawks spokesman Colonel Katlego Mogale, the task team started its inquiry after receiving a complaint from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) in September. She added that for the task force to investigate, all criminal cases regarding lottery abuse that were filed with the police are now being merged.
The proclamation was welcomed by Corruption Watch, which has been vocal about lottery corruption and is tracking the selection of a new NLC board chairman.
Karam Singh, head of legal and investigations for Corruption Watch, 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.”