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Hawks move to collar one of their own over alleged extensive Lottery corruption

Hawks move to collar one of their own over alleged extensive Lottery corruption
Marubini Ramatsekisa’s mansion in his home village dwarfs the houses around. (Photo: Raymond Joseph)

Former Spokeperson Hangwani Mulaudzi and former Head of Risk at the National Lotteries Commission Marubini Ramatsekisa are both named in a dossier handed to prosecutors.

The Hawks have completed an investigation into a multimillion-rand National Lotteries Commission (NLC) grant made to a foundation controlled by a former high-ranking police officer. The dossier and its findings have been handed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

The investigation focused on former Hawks national spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi, his wife, Rudzani, and a “consultant” allegedly involved in helping launder money misappropriated from the grant. The Hawks also investigated the role played by Marubini Ramatsekisa, the former NLC Head of Risk, who has been implicated in several other cases of fraud and corruption involving dodgy multimillion-dollar grants.

The investigation has been flagged as a priority by both the Hawks and the NPA, a source with knowledge of the investigation told GroundUp.

The R3-million grant was given to the Hangwani Mulaudzi Foundation, whose directors include Mulaudzi and his wife. It was meant to develop a sports facility that included a soccer field, a netball court, change rooms and a borehole in Mukondeni village in Vhembe district, Limpopo. In 2020 the Foundation also received a R100,000 Covid-19 grant.

Mulaudzi allegedly used the lottery funds to buy two expensive vehicles and pay school fees for his children. Almost R2-million was paid to an unidentified consultant, allegedly to help launder the money. The consultant allegedly “took a cut” and then paid a large sum to Mulaudzi, according to the source.

Mulaudzi told the Limpopo Mirror in 2020 that the R3-million Lottery grant was insufficient.

“This is a rural area and carrying out a project in an area like this is quite expensive,” Mulaudzi said. “So far, it seems we have under-calculated the project cost because we are now using monies from our own pockets to complete it, and that might come to anything between R300,000 and R500,000.”

The NPA Specialised Commercial Crime Unit must now decide whether the matter is ready for prosecution. The complaint was lodged last year directly with Hawks head Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya by forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan, who has been at loggerheads with Mulaudzi for years.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Exposed — The Sunday World highly lucrative, suspect partnership with the Lottery

When GroundUp visited Mukondeni two weeks ago, we found the sports facility vandalised and in a state of disrepair. Equipment, including a pump and several large water tanks, paid for with lottery funds have gone missing. Some of the missing equipment is listed in a July 2021 report commissioned by the NLC.

The soccer field is overgrown and cattle graze on it. The goalposts have been upended and the netball hoops uprooted. The court surface is cracking and weeds are growing around the concrete fringes. Doors and windows in the changing rooms and a storeroom are missing. The toilet and change rooms were filled with rubbish and there was a foul smell coming from the toilets.

Patchy soccer pitch with unfinished storeroom, lottery

Patchy soccer pitch with unfinished storeroom and changeroom with a cow grazing on the field. (Photo: Thembi Siaga)

Mulaudzi resigned with immediate effect late in 2020, following an outcry when details of the lottery grant, as well as claims that the local ANC branch benefited from it, became known.

Responding to questions via WhatsApp, Mulaudzi said he “must respectfully refrain from commenting due to legal implications and to maintain the integrity of the ongoing legal process.”

He said he was “fully committed to responding appropriately with evidence in the court setting, ensuring a comprehensive and lawful resolution.”

It was “reassuring … to learn that the wheels of justice are in motion to bring this long matter to its conclusion,” he said.

Hawks national spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo confirmed that the docket is with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, which will decide whether it is ready for prosecution.

Lumka Mahanjana, the Gauteng NPA spokesperson confirmed that the Hawks docket had been submitted to the NPA and that it was “still under consideration”.

Charge sheet

Ramatsekisa, who like Mulaudzi comes from Mukondeni, resigned late last year while on suspension before he could face an internal disciplinary enquiry on a raft of serious charges. These included enabling “the commission of corrupt or fraudulent activities against the NLC” and gross misconduct and dereliction of duty.

He was originally charged in December 2022 and additional charges were added in July 2023. After his resignation in December 2023, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) successfully applied to the Special Tribunal for an order to freeze his R1.7-million pension after he tried to withdraw it.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kgonyaga wrote that Ramatsekisa’s pension funds would “remain interdicted pending finalisation of an application to be brought against him by the SIU”.

“The SIU’s investigation into the affairs of the NLC found that Ramatsekisa was a key player and a willing facilitator of an elaborate scheme to defraud the Commission through proactive funding”, he said.

“The SIU intends to institute civil proceedings against Mr Ramatsekisa to recover damages suffered by NLC because of his conduct.”

Ramatsekisa’s NLC charge sheets, largely based on the SIU findings, allege fraud and corruption involving several grants to non-profit organisations. But the order freezing his pension was only based on a R4-million grant to a dormant non-profit shelf company.

Ramatsekisa failed to respond to questions sent to his WhatsApp number. A man who answered a phone number listed on Facebook for his leisure resort, The Rams Palace Resort, said he would ask Ramatsekisa to call back. He never did.

Marubini Ramatsekisa, lottery

Marubini Ramatsekisa. (Extracted from an NLC video (fair use))

Serious charges

The charge sheets against Ramatsekisa set out how the NLC commissioned a forensic investigation into proactive funding, the mechanism at the heart of Lottery looting, in February 2020. The report, which was never acted on (as was the case with several other reports commissioned by the NLC), was conducted by SkX Protiviti.

“The SkX Report makes adverse findings against you, relating to your involvement in the management of the proactive funding model”, the first charge sheet reads. “In addition, the NLC has independently identified instances at which you breached the provisions of NLC policies and procedures, as well as your duties and functions as Enterprise Risk Management Specialist and Grant Funding Projects Manager.”

Charges against Ramatsekisa included his:

  • failure to develop and implement standard operating procedures for proactively funded projects, and “dishonesty” regarding this failure;
  • management of proactive projects for the construction of ablution facilities at rural schools in Eastern Cape and Limpopo;
  • management of a proactively funded project to build an old age home in Kuruman (never completed);
  • management of a proactively funded project to build an old age home in the village of Marapyane, Mpumalanga (still incomplete);
  • management of a proactively funded soccer tournament for older women in Ba-Phalaborwa, Limpopo, involving a non-profit of which former NLC Chief Operating Office Phillemon Letwaba’s wife was a director;
  • management of a proactively funded project to build a drug rehabilitation centre in Soshanguve near Pretoria (never completed);
  • management of a proactively funded project to study the Khoisan language (see section on Zibsicraft); and
  • Management of the NLC’s Covid funding for non-profits.

Regarding the last of the charges, the charge sheet says, “On 5 August 2020, you instructed provincial managers and their teams not to upload reports relating to the Covid-19 Relief Programme on the organisation’s electronic system … You were not authorised to issue such an instruction. The effect of this instruction was to … hinder the monitoring of the use of public funds in respect of this programme.”

Rags to riches

The son of a retired school teacher and a stay-at-home mother, Ramatsekisa grew up in Mukondeni and now lives in Pretoria. He enjoyed a meteoric rise through the organisation’s ranks and within a few years of joining the NLC in 2013 in a relatively junior position, he was promoted to the Grant Funding Projects Manager, a key position in the funding chain. Three years later he became Chief Risk Officer, heading the unit responsible for investigating and preventing fraud. By the time he resigned late in 2023, Ramatsekisa was earning R1.7-million a year.

He built a magnificent three-story mansion in Mukondeni, the biggest home in his village, which stands empty for long periods when he is not in residence. He has also developed a pleasure resort with three pools just outside nearby Sereni village and owns a TLB (tractor, loader, backhoe) that locals say is hired out for local construction jobs. Besides his mansion in Mukondeni, Ramatsekisa and his wife own properties in Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Halfway House in Gauteng,

Both his village property and his leisure resort are on tribal land allocated by the local chief. GroundUp was unable to find any bonds registered with the Deeds Office on any of these properties, as is often the case with tribal land on which people usually self-fund construction. DM

First published by GroundUp.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • theresa burdett says:

    I am so tired of corrupt people in South Africa. As a risk officer you are there to protect the lotto not defraud it. I am wondering how many honest people are in South Africa. Why not allocate funds to gift of the givers with the proviso it can only be used in South Africa, with color not an issue. They at least will use the money for whom it is intended.

  • Rae Earl says:

    Amazing the charge sheets and dockets haven’t disappeared yet. Probably got caught unprepared. 20 years in jail would be good. For all of them.

  • tukulamotloung says:

    The NLC needs to investigate the rest of the managers

    • virginia crawford says:

      Agree. From junior position to R1.7 million a year? These “meteoric” rises of unskilled and often corrupt people should immediately raise red flags.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    And there, in a nutshell, you have everything that’s wrong in SA. If the “elite” unit of policing in SA is filled with scoundrels, (and we must assume that we only usually see the tip of the iceberg,) then what hope is there that your normal policeman/woman is honest? Close to zero.

  • Wonderful job indeed and follow up to be done as soon as possible

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    I doubt he will ever live in his mansion since the poor around him/ it will make access difficult. Meteoric rise in the NLC offices is common and rarely investigated/ lifestyle audited due to limited police competence all of which is a planned result by ruling party’s deployment policy. But all said and done the shack dwellers around the mansion will all vote corrupt ANC back into power come the next election.

  • Philip Wernberg says:

    I no longer buy any South African lottery tickets, we should all boycott buying tickets which will then dry up these funds. Instead of spending money on these tickets send this to a charity that will then directly benefit from our contribution. It is what I am doing.

    • Alley Cat says:

      Oh wow!! I stopped buying tickets too but I have started again because I thought the NLC had cleaned up its act and fired all the delinquents??
      Am I wrong?

  • Wayne Holt says:

    If the DNA is corrupt expect the body to be corrupt. Sp much of the ANC DNA is corrupt!

  • Nonnie Oelofse says:

    I am convinced that these criminals are aliens from another galaxy that infiltrated our society and their DNA are set to loot and murder…No civilised human being will even think of doing what they do…

  • Alfreda Frantzen says:

    Just Why are we not surprised 🤯. Still, I’m flabbergasted at the huge scale of the ill- gotten wealth these hyenas gather. Than you DM for revealing and reminding us

  • Sean Kerr says:

    So many worthy causes in SA could benefit from the Lotto – sad to see the greed and dishonesty. While Sport is not an imperitive to fixing many of the social ills the Lottery could play a huge part in helping to build national pride. Please dont read out of context – I fully agree that there should be a priorty to aiding the youth, elderly and vulnerable first. There are many organisations who can/could properly administer funds allocated to them by the Lottery.

  • Patrick O'Shea says:

    That house should be repurposed as an education center for the youth of the area.

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