Lamola's law firm bungled Lotteries probe
Three forensic reports compiled by a high-profile firm of attorneys commissioned by the National Lotteries Commission to investigate corruption with Lottery funding are littered with forged documents, according to a GroundUp investigation.
Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola was a director in the firm, Ndobela Lamola Inc (NL Inc), when two of the reports were submitted.
GroundUp says it reported late in 2018 how a hijacked non-profit company, Denzhe Primary Care, was used to apply for millions of rands in Lottery grants to build a drug rehabilitation centre near Pretoria. The centre was never finished and at least R20m of the R27.5m given to Denzhe is unaccounted for.
The story also revealed how the brother of the Lotteries Commission’s chief operating officer Phillemon Letwaba headed up a construction company that received the contract to build the centre.
NL Inc was subsequently commissioned by the Lotteries Commission to investigate and ‘to ascertain the veracity of allegations made’ in newspaper reports regarding Denzhe.
The reports submitted to two successive Ministers of Trade & Industry include forged affidavits and proof of payment receipts, a bogus annual financial statement, and forged resolutions supposedly passed by Denzhe Primary Care.
The reports, which have never been made public, were rejected out-of-hand by two Ministers charged with oversight of the Lotteries Commission.
When two of the reports were submitted to the Lotteries Commission, Lamola was one of two directors of the firm, which still bears his name.
Lamola was appointed to Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet on 30 May 2019, 27 days after NL Inc produced its second report. But he is recorded as having resigned as a director of NL Inc several months later, on 2 September 2019, according to Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission records.
GroundUp says questions were sent to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola via e-mail to his spokesperson Chrispin Phiri.
When a reminder was sent to Phiri that the seven days long deadline was about to expire, he responded: ‘Thanks sir, please note the law firm will be dealing with the inquiries.’
Pressed further, Phiri said: ‘The work was done not in his personal capacity. It was done under the auspices of the client through the firm. So the firm can best explain its process and which director did what, etc.’ And, ‘None of these processes pertain to the individual Ronald Lamola. You need to separate the two.’
He said the Lotteries Commission ‘did not contract with Lamola, but a separate entity in the form of Ndobela Lamola Inc’.
Detailed questions were also sent to Rhulani Ndobela, now the sole director of NL Inc., Ndobela described the questions sent to NL Inc as being ‘littered with (a) complicated set of logical incongruity’.
He confirmed that Lamola ‘has indeed resigned’ and said: ‘The details and extent of our involvement are covered by attorney and client confidentiality, and thus, you are most welcome to address your questions on this matter directly with our client’.
GroundUp says the Lotteries Commission responded with a brief letter stating that the matters referred to were under investigation by the Hawks and SIU.
‘We have subsequently advised our client not to respond to your questions until the above investigations have been concluded.’
Article disclaimer: While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide final legal advice as facts and situations will differ from case to case, and therefore specific legal advice should be sought with a lawyer.