The NLC was overwhelmed with corruption during Thabang Mampane’s tenure as Commissioner. By Raymond Joseph.
The Commissioner of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has resigned “with immediate effect” just weeks before her term expires at the end of September. This is according to several sources.
Thabang Charlotte Mampane served ten years as Commissioner — effectively chief executive officer of the NLC. Her first five-year contract was extended in September 2017.
The NLC has been overwhelmed with corruption over the past few years. GroundUp has uncovered hundreds of millions of rands of misspent Lottery funding on Mampane’s watch, and what we have reported is likely the tip of the iceberg.
Her resignation comes just over two weeks after we revealed that Lottery funding meant to build a Limpopo school razed by fire during a protest, had been used to pay for her luxury home in a golf estate.
The house, in the upmarket Pecanwood Estate, which abuts Hartebeespoort Dam in North West Province, is registered in the name of a trust in which Mampane and her husband, Samuel, are both trustees. The couple and their two adult children are all beneficiaries of the trust.
Mampane’s house is one of several that GroundUp has revealed was bought with Lottery grants meant to go to fund good causes, especially in rural and marginalised communities.
Mampane, who last year earned R4.5-million, went on leave on the same day that the GroundUp story was published.
We understand that Mampane was to face disciplinary action in connection with the use of Lottery money to purchase her house. It’s unclear what the effect of her sudden resignation will be on this process.
Thendo Ramagoma, the former deputy of the NLC’s Arts and Culture distributing agency and current legal executive, has been acting as Commissioner since Mampane went on leave two weeks ago.
The purchase of the house is under investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which has been probing corruption involving Lottery funds ever since President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a proclamation in October 2020 authorising the investigation.
Mampane was recently called in by the SIU to answer questions about the 2016 purchase of the house for R3.6-million. A few weeks afterward GroundUp, which had been investigating the house purchase since receiving a tip-off last year, published its story.
Under Mampane, the NLC’s relationship with Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel, who has oversight of the lottery, has been adversarial and marked with litigation (see here and here). Communication between the minister and the NLC was largely reduced to writing, often in the form of lawyers’ letters.
This is not the first time that Mampane has resigned from a high-powered job. In 2010, she resigned as acting chief operations officer of the SABC, after she was caught on CCTV camera eavesdropping on a board meeting where her performance was being discussed.
It followed the SABC board’s dismal performance before SCOPA (Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts) the previous month. After the SCOPA hearing, Mampane came under pressure to give up her post, but she retained her well-paid job as a group executive in the office of the CEO.
In 2012, she received a “golden handshake” of R4.3-million from the SABC to prematurely terminate her contract. She joined the NLC as Commissioner shortly afterwards.
Mampane did not respond to a request for comment about her resignation, sent to her via WhatsApp and Signal.
NLC spokesperson Ndivhuho Mafela said he was not aware of Mampane’s resignation and was trying to verify it. Reminded of the deadline in the original request, he said he had to “follow protocols”. He had not responded by the time of publication. This story will be updated when, and if, he comments.
© 2022 GroundUp