SIU freezes mansion of former lottery chair
Under Alfred Nevhutanda’s tenure as chairperson of the Lottery board there was grand-scale corruption
A judge has granted a preservation order on the multi-million rand luxury home and furniture of former National Lotteries Commission (NLC) board chair Alfred Nevhutanda.
Besides the house, the order was also granted against Vhutanda Investments, a private company that owns the property. According to official company records, Nevhutanda is the sole director.
At the time the home was purchased, set on its own private two-hectare estate in Pretoria, Nevhutanda was the long-time chairperson of the NLC board.
The order, which was sought by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), was granted after a secret virtual hearing presided over by Special Tribunal Judge Soma Naidoo on 15 June.
The judge also instructed the SIU to initiate civil proceedings against Nevhutanda and Vhutanda “for the disgorgement of secret profits improperly earned” during Nevhutanda’s tenure as the NLC board chair.
Judge Naidoo also ordered a “review and setting aside” of the decisions by the NLC to grant funding to five non-profits, which between them received tens of millions of rands for infrastructure projects. These include two Lottery-funded old age homes and a drug rehabilitation centre that have never been completed.
In terms of the order, both Nevhutanda and Vhutanda Investments are “prohibited from selling, disposing of, leasing, transferring, donating, or dealing any manner whatsoever with respect to the immovable property and the furniture.”
The SIU said in a statement: “The property is now under the care of a curator.”
“The SIU will institute civil proceedings within 60 days, which seeks to review and set aside the decisions by the NLC to approve funding for War_Rna NPO, Inqaba Yokulinda, Mushumo Ushava Zwanda, Simingaye Community Project NPO and Zibsilor NPO, and recover financial losses suffered by the state.”
Also included in the order are two private companies. One of them, Mishone Trading 11, was identified by the SIU as a “vehicle to distribute NLC funds” to businesses “directed by” members of NLC chief operating officer Phillemon Letwaba’s family.
Several individuals involved with the affected non-profits are also named in the preservation order.
“[The] SIU probe has revealed that the property was funded by non-profit organisations (NPOs) with the money they have received, under the auspices of grant funding, from the National Lotteries Commission,” the SIU posted on its official Twitter account.
“Five NPOs applied for grant funding at the NLC and were jointly funded to the tune of over R100-million. Immediately after funding was received, the NPOs transferred money to a legal firm for the purchase of the property and the furniture,” reads another tweet.
GroundUp revealed earlier this year how non-profit organisations that had received Lottery grants contributed millions of rands, both directly and indirectly, to help pay for Nevhutanda’s lavish R27-million mansion. It was being marketed by a London-based estate agent for £2.42 million at the time Nevhutanda bought it in 2018.
The GroundUp investigation uncovered evidence that the money was paid over a six-month period, between September 2017 and March 2018, directly to Couzyn Hertzog & Horak Attorneys, a law firm acting for the seller of the property. This money was held in trust by the attorneys until the property was transferred to Vhutanda.
The total cost of the house, including over R3-million in transfer fees, was more than R30-million. Yet it has a municipal valuation of only R5.3-million.
The nonprofits affected by the preservation order are:
- Yokulinda Inqaba: earlier this year the SIU obtained a preservation order against this organisation that received over R19-million to build an athletics track in the Northern Cape, an IT company and five people, including Terrence Magogodela, the acting CEO of Athletics South Africa. The organisation transferred R10-million of its NLC grant to Unicus Solu(IT)ons (Pty) Ltd, which in turn paid R2.5-million towards the house. Several of the parties involved have appealed, but judgement is yet to be handed down by the Tribunal.
- WAR_RNA is a dormant NPO that was hijacked and used to successfully apply for R28.3-million in funding between 2017 and 2020 to build an old aged home in the North West. Like five other Lottery-funded old age homes and four drug rehabs, construction is still not finished and none are yet operational. Also named as respondents in the preservation order are several people who were involved in the hijacking of the WAR_RNA and using it to successfully apply for Lottery grants. Among them is Matodzi Mashele, whose company Mishone Trading 11, was paid R11.7-million by WAR_RNA. Of this payment, R9.2-million was paid into the trust account of the attorneys handling the purchase of Nevhutanda’s home.
- During a presentation to Parliament in March this year, SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi said investigations had identified Mishone as a “vehicle to distribute NLC funds” to businesses “directed by” members of NLC Chief Operating Officer Phillemon Letwaba’s family.
- Mushumo Ushavo Zwanda is a hijacked non-profit organisation that received R27.4-million to build an old age home in rural Limpopo. Mushumo paid R2.1-million towards Nevhutanda’s home. The site has been abandoned and left to rot.
- Simingaye Community Project paid R600,000 towards the house after it received a R13-million grant in the 2018/19 financial year. We have been unable to ascertain what project this funding was for.
- Zibsilor is a shelf company that received R29.5-million in Lottery funding for a drug rehab centre in Soshenguve, near Pretoria. It chipped in R1-million towards Nevhutanda’s house. Despite the millions it received in grants, the rehab is still unfinished.
Not included in the preservation order are several private companies that contributed to the house, including an IT company and another company linked to NLC COO Letwaba.
Rather than being direct beneficiaries, some of these companies were contracted as service providers by the NLC, or by non-profits that received Lottery funding. GroundUp understands that these indirect dealings are not covered in the original proclamation signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in October 2020, which authorised the SIU to probe alleged corruption and maladministration involving the National Lotteries Commission (NLC). The original proclamation would need to be extended to include them.
Nevhutanda was appointed to the NLC board in 2009 during the presidency of Jacob Zuma. As former provincial chairperson of the ANC in Limpopo, Nevhutanda was one of the key fundraisers for the party’s 2009 election campaign in that province.
During his 11-year tenure as chairman of the NLC board, the politically-connected Nevhutanda ruled the NLC with an iron grip, tightly controlling the organisation’s messaging and contact with the government and the ANC.
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