The recent ruling by the High Court of South Africa: Gauteng Division, Pretoria, has upheld the integrity of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and its ongoing investigation into the National Lotteries Commission (NLC). The court dismissed Dr. John Marite’s application to influence the SIU’s procedures and change its NLC investigation team, labeling it as an abuse of process.
Uncovering Suspicious Transactions
The SIU’s investigation into the NLC revealed that Dr. Marite’s company, Right Play Health Services, received around R7.2 million from Zibsimode NPC, a non-profit organization with ties to former NLC board chairperson Alfred Nevhutanda. Zibsimode had been granted approximately R20.2 million by the NLC to implement a public campaign and culturally sensitive medical intervention projects focused on traditional circumcision practice. Dr. Marite’s company was contracted to perform the male circumcision service.
Subsequently, Zibsimode allocated approximately R3 million for the construction of a house for South African actress Moitheri Pheto. The SIU discovered suspicious transactions involving Dr. Marite’s company, including a deposit of around R2.009 million to Ironbridge Travel Agency without any indication of work completed. The directors of Ironbridge at the time were all linked to the then-Chief Operating Officer of NLC, Phillemon Letwaba.
Furthermore, Right Play Health Services transferred R2.013 million to Ndzuku Trading, owned by Malwandla Solly Siweya, who was named in Dr. Marite’s court application against the SIU. Siweya’s Ndzuku Training had also received three payments from Zibsimode totaling R4.1 million. As the SIU’s questioning intensified, Dr. Marite failed to provide satisfactory answers, prompting him to approach the High Court to seek an alteration of the SIU’s modus operandi.
Upholding the SIU’s Independence
The SIU considered Dr. Marite’s court challenge an abuse of process and an attempt to evade accountability. The High Court agreed and dismissed the application, ensuring the SIU’s independence remained unswayed while allowing them to finalize the investigation into the R7.2 million connected to Dr. Marite.
Empowering the SIU
Under Proclamation R32 of 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa authorized the SIU to scrutinize allegations of corruption and maladministration within the NLC and the conduct of its officials to recover any financial losses incurred by the State. Empowered by the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act 74 of 1996, the SIU can take civil action in the High Court or a Special Tribunal to rectify any wrongdoing discovered during its investigations, resulting from corruption, fraud, or maladministration. Furthermore, the SIU refers any evidence suggesting criminal conduct to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for additional action.
The High Court’s landmark ruling has upheld the integrity of the SIU’s investigation into the National Lotteries Commission and has ensured that the investigation remains unbiased and independent. This ruling will aid the SIU in finalizing its investigation and taking necessary actions to rectify any wrongdoing discovered during its investigations.