South African NLC makes money pledge to complete unfinished projects

South African NLC makes money pledge to complete unfinished projects
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The South African National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has allocated nearly R65m ($3.6m) to finish lottery-funded projects in the country, according to GroundUp.

The South African NLC had previously pledged to oversee a number of infrastructure projects that would benefit communities across South Africa, including a drug rehabilitation centre.

However, many of these buildings were left incomplete after lottery grants went missing.

One of these projects was to rebuild the Vhafamadi Secondary School in Limpopo in 2016, following its destruction during violent protest action.

But, in 2018, it was reported that the new buildings were displaying clear signs of structural damage, just 19 months after construction, raising doubts over the R28.3m ($1.5m) lottery grant that had allegedly been set aside for the project.

The recipient of the grant, the non-profit organisation Simba Community Develop Foundation (Simba), had not been mentioned in the list of grantees in any of the NLC’s annual reports.

The situation took a further turn in September 2022 when a special tribunal froze the pension of Phillemon Letwaba, the former COO of the South African NLC.

According to local reports, Letwaba allegedly used friends, family businesses and trusts to receive money from non-profit organisations for his benefit.

In the wake of these allegations, the South African NLC presented its recovery plan in September.

Following this, it has now been agreed to complete the unfinished projects, with the companies and directors previously involved in the projects now blacklisted.

Funds will now be paid directly to the engineering firms commissioned by the NLC instead of the NPOs that were initially supposed to fund the projects.

Over R240m ($13.3m), including the latest grants, has now been allocated for these projects in need of completion.

Mat Cuthbert, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister for Trade, Industry and Competition, said: “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.”