South Africa: Millions to Be Spent to Complete Abandoned Lottery-Funded Projects
Engineers to be paid directly to finish multi-million rand infrastructure projects
- The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has allocated nearly R65-million to finish Lottery-funded projects where tens of millions of rands were looted.
- New funds are to be paid directly to engineers commissioned by the NLC instead of dodgy non-profit companies.
- Over R240-million in grants has now been allocated to these projects, which include four old age homes, a drug rehab and a supposed “boxing arena”.
- The projects are all currently under investigation by the Special Investigating Unit and the Hawks.
- The dodgy companies and their directors will be blacklisted by the NLC.
Abandoned infrastructure projects funded by the National Lotteries Commission, including four old-age homes and a drug rehabilitation centre, will finally be completed, years after tens of millions of rands intended for their construction were looted.
The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has allocated nearly R65-million to finish several multi-million rand infrastructure projects that were left incomplete after Lottery grants went missing.
These funds will be paid directly to the engineering firms commissioned by the NLC instead of the non-profit companies (NPCs) that were initially supposed to fund the projects.
Details of additional funding for the unfinished projects, which are all currently being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the Hawks, are included in the NLC’s latest annual report, which was presented to Parliament by its new board last week.
Over R240-million, including the latest grants, has now been allocated for these projects in need of completion.
Most of these unfinished projects initially received “proactive” funding, which was at the heart of the looting of the Lottery and has now been suspended. Proactive funding allowed the NLC to identify projects to fund without first receiving an application, and to identify and appoint an NPC to run the project. This resulted in dodgy, often hijacked, NPCs with no experience of construction being put in charge of multi-million rand projects which were never completed.
NLC spokesperson Ndivhuho Mafela told GroundUp that “the NLC took a decision to oversee the completion of these projects directly through its own panel of engineers. The Special Investigating Unit was engaged on completion of the projects and did not oppose such action.”
The additional funds were not paid to any of the non-profit companies that were originally funded. The NLC’s annual report identifies the new funding with the names of the organisations originally funded, but this is only for reporting purposes.
Instead, the latest grants will be “controlled” by the engineers tasked with completing construction of the various projects.
Finishing the job
The unfinished projects which have received additional funding are:
- A drug rehabilitation centre in Kuruman in the Northern Cape, which will receive R14-million for its completion. Since 2016, Abrina, a non-profit company, has received R34.3-million from the NLC. A forensic investigation found that only R5.3-million of the R22-million originally allocated was spent on the centre;
- An old-age home in Dumbe, near Paulpietersburg in KwaZulu-Natal, which will receive R13-million for its completion. An NPC called Ubusu received a total of R36.8-million in grants to build this unfinished project;
- An old-age home in Marapyane in Mpumalanga, which has now been allocated a further R11-million to complete its construction. Matiene Community Centre, a Limpopo based NPO, was initially allocated R23.7-million. Some of the money intended for this project was used for the construction of ex-NLC chief operating officer Phillemon Letwaba’s house nearby;
- An old-age home in North West, which has been allocated a further R8.9-million for its completion. WAR_RNA, a hijacked non-profit company, was given over R20-million in Lottery grants for this project;
- A drug rehab in Soshanguve, which has been given an additional R8.6-million to complete construction of the facility. Zibsilor initially received over R20.7-million;
- A communal or multi-sport centre in Storms River, originally funded as a “boxing arena”, which has been allocated an additional R4.3-million. Nunnovation, a Gauteng-based NPO, was given almost R40-million to build the supposed boxing arena; and
- R5-million in additional funds were allocated to an unknown project initially run by House of Mercy, one of several dodgy Lottery-funded non-profits run by TV pastor Joyline Josamu and members of her family and close associates. It has previously received R2.3-million.
The NLC has decided not to complete an old-age home in Maila Village in Limpopo, where Mushumo Ushavha Zwanda, a hijacked NPO, was used to steal millions of rands from the Lottery.
Grants worth R27.4-million were used to begin building the old-age home, but the NLC decided that it is beyond repair. When GroundUp visited the home earlier this year, the buildings were in a very poor state. There were no roofs, doors or windows, and the buildings had been abandoned to the elements and left to rot.
No additional funding was allocated for Denzhe Primary Care, a hijacked NPO, which received R27.5-million for the construction of a drug rehab near Pretoria. SkX estimated that only R4.8-million of this was spent on the rehab’s construction.
“House of Mercy and Denzhe are at the heart of the SIU investigation and we would like to await the outcome of that process,” said Mafela.
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Mat Cuthbert, the Democratic Alliance shadow minister for Trade, Industry and Competition, who played a key role in Parliament in exposing the rot at the NLC, welcomed the decision to complete the projects.
“We are satisfied that [the NLC] took the appropriate steps to ensure that these organisations were not given the opportunity to misuse any more lottery funding and we are hopeful that the new leadership at the entity will continue to act prudently in this regard,” he said.
Cleaning up corruption
The NLC’s annual report should have been completed last year but was delayed due to misstatements and other issues found in the financial statements. It was finally completed in February this year, when the Auditor-General issued a qualified audit opinion, after extensive back-and-forth with the NLC, which had contested some of the findings.
Mafela told GroundUp that the NLC was in the process of placing Zibsilor, Matiene, Nunnovation, WAR_RNA, Abrina and Ubusu and their directors on its internal delinquency list so that no further funding would be advanced to these organisations or their directors.
“The NLC is currently reviewing all pro-actively funded projects for the 2021/22 financial year. Any irregularities identified will be referred to law enforcement agencies and recovery of funds will ensue,” said Mafela.