SIU Triumphs in High Court Battle

  • Court dismisses Dr. John Marite's application against the SIU's NLC investigation team.
  • SIU probes R7.2 million paid to Dr. Marite's company by Zibsimode linked to NLC.
  • SIU empowered by President Ramaphosa to investigate NLC corruption and maladministration, recover state losses.

The High Court of South Africa: Gauteng Division, Pretoria, has delivered a significant ruling in favor of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) concerning its investigation into the National Lotteries Commission (NLC). In a judgment issued on September 5, 2023, Acting Judge Hein Snyman dismissed an application by Dr. John Marite, describing it as an “abuse of process.” The application sought to compel the SIU to change its NLC investigation team and interfere with the SIU’s investigative methods.

The case revolves around a series of financial transactions and alleged improprieties involving Dr. Marite’s company, Right Play Health Services, and Zibsimode NPC, a non-profit organization connected to the former NLC board chairperson, Alfred Nevhutanda. Zibsimode received substantial grant funding of approximately R20.2 million from NLC for projects aimed at promoting traditional circumcision practices and cultural sensitivity in medical interventions. They engaged Dr. Marite’s medical services for this purpose.

Key Financial Transactions and Entities Involved:

DateTransaction DetailsAmount (R)Entities Involved
May 31, 2017Payment from Zibsimode to Right Play Health Services, Dr. Marite’s company7,292,700Zibsimode, Right Play Health Services
June 2, 2017Transfer from Right Play Health Services to Ironbridge Travel Agency2,009,700Right Play Health Services, Ironbridge
June 2, 2017Transfer from Right Play Health Services to Ndzuku Trading2,013,000Right Play Health Services, Ndzuku Trading

The transactions raised concerns, especially the payments made to Ironbridge Travel Agency, whose directors were linked to the then-Chief Operating Officer of NLC, Phillemon Letwaba. The directors included Karabo Sithole (Letwaba’s cousin), Rebotile Malomane (Letwaba’s wife), Relebogile Constance Maboa (Sithole’s wife), and Thabo Letwaba (Letwaba’s brother). Simultaneously, Right Play Health Services transferred R2,013,000 to Ndzuku Trading, owned by Malwandla Solly Siweya, a respondent in Dr. Marite’s court application.

When questioned about these financial transactions, Dr. Marite failed to provide satisfactory answers to SIU investigators. In response, he approached the High Court, seeking an order to force the SIU to change its NLC investigation team and interfere with the SIU’s investigative process.

The High Court’s decision to dismiss Dr. Marite’s application with costs is considered a significant victory for the SIU. The court concurred with the SIU’s position that the application amounted to an abuse of process and an attempt to evade accountability. This ruling allows the SIU to continue its investigation into the R7.2 million received by Dr. Marite and ensures that the SIU’s independence remains uncompromised.

The SIU, authorized by President Cyril Ramaphosa through Proclamation R32 of 2020, is mandated to investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration within the NLC, including the conduct of NLC officials. The SIU’s mission is to recover any financial losses suffered by the State. It possesses the authority to initiate civil action in the High Court or a Special Tribunal to rectify wrongdoing uncovered during its investigations, particularly relating to corruption, fraud, or maladministration. Additionally, the SIU refers evidence of criminal conduct to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for further action, in line with the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act 74 of 1996.

This judgment marks a significant step in preserving the integrity of investigations into alleged misconduct and financial irregularities, underscoring the commitment to accountability and transparency within South Africa’s governance structures.

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