‘We are very embarrassed as the National Lotteries Commission,’ says board chairperson as SIU exposes mass looting of funds

A foundation owned by ‘Tsotsi’ actor Presley Chweneyagae has been implicated in the looting of R15 million from the National Lotteries Commission, and the money was meant for community upliftment projects. File Picture

A foundation owned by ‘Tsotsi’ actor Presley Chweneyagae has been implicated in the looting of R15 million from the National Lotteries Commission, and the money was meant for community upliftment projects. File Picture

Published Feb 15, 2024


As the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) draws closer to conclude its extensive probe into the alleged endemic corruption and grand-scale looting of money within the National Lotteries Commission, the NLC on Thursday said the SIU probe has excavated the deep extent of the rot.

In a report tabled before Parliament's trade and industry portfolio committee on Wednesday, the SIU said it is on the verge of solving the R1.4 billion case of alleged corruption linked to the NLC.

The SIU has completed 90% of phase two of the work which followed the paper trail on how the NLC lost the R1.4 billion.

High profile people implicated in the SIU probe include popular actress Moitheri Terry Pheto, star of “Tsotsi”, her sister Dimakatso and her fashion designer friend Thula Sindi.

Reacting to the SIU report, NLC board chairperson, Professor Barney Pityana told broadcaster Newzroom Afrika that the shenanigans exposed so far are welcome in rooting out the graft.

“We are very appreciative of the work of the SIU. It is the the kind of professional work that that NLC on its own would not have done. We can now see the extent of the rot in the NLC in the last so many years, maybe 10 years or so,” said Pityana.

“We are very embarrassed as the National Lotteries Commission to the people of South Africa who have been supporting the national lottery, as much as they have been doing. At the same time, we want to make sure that the outcomes of the very expensive investigations being undertaken by the SIU are followed up by the Hawks and by the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority).

“In terms of recovery of large amounts of money, the SIU says something up to R1.4 billion may have been misappropriated and we need to recover as much as we need. At the moment, the Asset Forfeiture Unit is at work on this matter and it is important that that money goes back to where it belongs – to the needy of our country,” he said.

Pityana said a large-scale criminal network has been at work and the accused people should be prosecuted.

“We are looking to the NPA to get moving on the prosecutions as well. Finally, the NLC is seeking legal advice in taking action against board members who were implicated in this, to try and see if they cannot be declared delinquent directors.”

According to The Star, some of the revelations in the SIU investigation include how money meant for impoverished communities in and around Marikana in North West was squandered.

With regards to Pheto, revelations are that she unduly benefited once again from the NLC grant funding.

Actress Terry Pheto has been implicated yet again in the SIU probe into corruption at the National Lotteries Commission. File Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

The NLC approved grant funding of R5 million to Zibisibix Non-Profit Company for a chicken farm in December 2018.

After receiving the R5 million, The Star reported that money was moved from the bank account and payments were made to different bank accounts, including that of Black Planet Trading, whose director is Sindi. The company was paid R140,000.

The farm was purchased for R850,000, and the SIU found that the former chairperson of the NLC board, Professor Alfred Nevhutanda signed the offer to purchase the farm in Vaal.

More evidence revealed that the farm was purchased for the benefit of Dimakatso Pheto, who is Terry’s sister.

In March last year, IOL reported that Terry’s lavish three-bedroom Joburg house, allegedly built with funds siphoned from the NLC, had failed to acquire a buyer on the first day of its auction.

The Joburg house of Moitheri Terry Pheto which was built with funds linked to siphoning of the National Lottery Commission grant funding. File Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi / Independent Newspapers

In 2022, the SIU reported that the house was built with funds linked to the siphoning off of NLC grant funding. Money used to construct the Bryanston property was meant for the rollout of a public campaign on safe circumcision.

In another revelation, the SIU has discovered that a foundation belonging “Tsotsi” star and popular actor Presley Chweneyagae was used to loot R15 million from the NLC.

Presley Chweneyagae. File Picture

The SIU investigation uncovered that the Chweneyagae Foundation was used to launder and distribute the R15 million grant to different entities with direct links to senior NLC officials and their spouses.