Source: South African government
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has obtained a preservation order from the Special Tribunal to freeze pension benefits of Philemon Letwaba, the former chief operating officer of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).
The Special Tribunal order, dated 16 September 2022, interdicts the Liberty Group — the pension administrator — from paying out pension benefits to the value of approximately R2.8-million due to Letwaba, pending the final determination of an application to be brought by the SIU against Letwaba within 60 days.
The SIU approached the Special Tribunal on an urgent basis to freeze Letwaba’s pension benefits after he resigned from the NLC pending the institution of a disciplinary hearing into his role in the distribution of NLC funds to several non-profit organisations (NPOs).
An investigation by the SIU in the affairs of NLC had revealed that Letwaba allegedly benefited personally from monies received by NPOs from the NLC. The SIU investigation had revealed that Letwaba allegedly used friends and family businesses, and trusts to receive money from NPOs for his benefit and that of his family.
The names of the businesses and trusts are:
- Unbrand Properties
- Mosokodi Water Solutions and Drilling
- Mosokodi Farming Project
- Kaone Wethu
- Mosokodi Trust
- Letwaba Family Trust
In one of several NLC funded projects investigated by the SIU, it was revealed that a Limpopo Province based NPO received approximately R25-million for the refurbishment of a torched school in Vuwani. Twelve days after the NPO received the money, it allegedly transferred approximately R4-million to Unbrand Properties without evidence of work being done and in violation of the funding agreement.
The SIU was, in terms of Proclamation R32 of 2020, authorised by President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration in the affairs of NLC and the conduct of NLC officials, and to recover any financial losses suffered by the State.
The proclamation covers offences which took place between 1 January 2014 and 6 November 2020, the date of publication of this proclamation, or which took place prior to 1 January 2014. It also covers any offences after the proclamation date that are relevant to, connected with, incidental to the matters or involve the same persons, entities or contracts investigated under authority of Proclamation R32 of 2020.
The SIU is empowered by the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act 74 of 1996 to institute civil action in the Special Tribunal or the High Court to correct any wrongdoing it uncovers in its investigation. Where evidence points to a criminal conduct, the SIU refers the evidence to the National Prosecuting Authority for further action.
The preservation order granted by the Special Tribunal is a continuation of the implementation of the SIU investigation outcomes and consequence management to recover assets and financial losses suffered by State institutions and/or to prevent further losses.