Money from the National Lottery that was intended to rebuild a school in Limpopo, was used to buy a R3.6 million house in a golf estate in Hartbeespoort for the Commissioner of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), GroundUp news agency reports.

The R3.6-million house in Pecanwood Estate is registered in the name of the Mojakgomo Family Trust. Commisioner of the NLC, Thabang Mampane and her husband, Solomon, are both trustees of the trust, according to official records. The couple and their two adult children are all beneficiaries of the trust.

The money for the house was channelled through Upbrand Properties, a private company closely linked to the NLC’s Chief Operating Officer Phillemon Letwaba and his family.

On 29 August 2016, a non-profit organisation, Simba Community Development Foundation, received more than R25-million — the first tranche of a R28.3-million grant — to rebuild Vhafamadi school, which had been gutted by fire during protests the previous year. On the same day, Simba paid R4-million to Upbrand Properties.

At the time, Johannes Letwaba, the brother of Phillemon Letwaba, then the chief financial officer of the NLC, was the sole director of Upbrand Properties.

In September Upbrand’s account was topped up by Ironbridge Travelling Agency (Letwaba’s wife, Rebotile Malomane is now a director of Ironbridge) and Shandukani Holdings, which did some of the construction work at the school.

With the account topped up, Upbrand then paid R3.6-million to Jacobs Robbertse Attorneys, the lawyers acting in the sale of the house to Mampane. The purchase price was paid in full and no mortgage bond was registered over the property.
The payments from Simba to Upbrand, and then to Jacobs Robbertse, are reflected in Simba and Upbrand bank statements, which GroundUp has seen.

Upbrand also made an additional payment of R269,848 to cover transfer and legal costs. The house was registered in the name of the trust on 1 December 2016.

NLC spokesperson Ndivhuho Mafela said in an emailed response to GroundUp’s questions, “The issues and transactions referred to in the inquiry are currently being canvassed through an investigation the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) is conducting on the affairs of the National Lotteries Commission.

“At this stage, the NLC will not be commenting on media inquiries that require details of grants awarded between 2014 and 2020 as well as related transactions. This is to allow the SIU to conduct this investigation without any hindrance or prejudice.”

Mampane had not responded to questions sent by GroundUp by the time of publication.

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