The chief operations officer of South Africa’s National Lotteries Commission has been suspended from his job for the third time. Phillemon Letwaba is now to face a disciplinary inquiry after he was accused of abusing his position with the lottery to enrich himself and his relatives.
Several months ago, another disciplinary inquiry was made into Letwaba’s conduct and he was put off work until such time as the hearing was held. Many found it strange that the hearing cleared him of any wrongdoing, including accusations of money laundering and abusing his position of power.
However, as he was cleared, Letwaba was allowed back to work. This time around, the CEO faces the same charges as those brought against him four months ago.
According to GroundUp, Letwaba is being accused of contravening the Prevention of Organized Crime Act, as well as the Lotteries Act and the Public Finance Management Act.
The news source also said that it understands that Letwaba faces additional charges.
Several weeks ago, the board of the National Lotteries Commission sent their CEO a letter asking for a response from him as to why he believes that he should not be placed on temporary suspension.
His lawyers responded that he had already been cleared in the previous inquiry and there was no need to go through the motions again.
In February 2020, Letwaba took a “leave of absence” after the National Lotteries Commission announced that it had appointed an independent investigation into allegations of improper use of funds. South Africans are still waiting for the outcome of that investigation to be made public.
Although he was off work for 17 months, he was paid a performance bonus of R1 million, as revealed last week in the latest NLC annual report.
The bonus is over and above Letwaba’s basic annual salary of R2.46 million.
In addition, Commissioner Thabang Mampane, who is leaving her job with the Lottery next month as her decade-long contract comes to an end, was paid R4.5 million per year. She was also paid a performance bonus of R1.25 million.
AllAfrica.com points out that Mampane earned more than South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa did last year.
Three months after returning to work, Letwaba was suspended on the recommendation of the Special Investigation Unit which had been investigating corruption in the Lottery. It will be interesting to see what happens at the end of November 2022 when Letwaba’s five-year employment contract with the Lottery comes to an end.
In the meantime, Nkhenso Njoni, the Commission’s senior manager of financial accounting, has been appointed as acting chief operations manager until the end of August.