Lawyer salary

Dodgy lawyer Lesley Ramulifho still works for the lottery

Lawyer Lesley Ramulifho, under investigation for corruption of lottery grants, continued to provide legal services to the National Lottery Commission. File photo: Ashraf Hendricks

  • Pretoria lawyer Lesley Ramulifho is being investigated for corruption involving large lottery grants.

  • But he continued to provide legal services to the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).

  • Ramulifho was the investigating attorney and briefed counsel to represent the NLC in pay dispute hearings through April 2022.

  • Neither the NLC nor Ramulifho answered our questions on this subject.

Despite being investigated for corruption involving multi-million rand lottery grants, lawyer Lesley Ramulifho has continued to provide legal services to the National Lotteries Commission (NLC).

This was revealed in an arbitration award by Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) Commissioner Nathalie Willemse on May 22.

The award states that Ramulifho Attorneys – Ramulifho’s law firm – represented the NLC in the case and advised an attorney to represent the NLC. Lawyer Ben Ridgard, who represented the NLC in the arbitration case, confirmed that Ramulifho’s law firm “was my appointed attorney”.

The award concerned a long-standing pay dispute between the NLC and two unions, the National Union of Education, Health and Allied Workers (NEHAWU) and the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers. (NUPSAW). The dispute had dragged on since 2014 before being decided in favor of union members after several hearings, the most recent of which was in April this year.

The NLC did not respond to emailed questions about Ramulifho’s work for the Commission. Ramulifho was emailed a copy of the same questions sent to the NLC, asking him to comment. He didn’t answer either.

There was also no response to an email sent to the attention of the NLC board via board member Willie Hofmeyr.

Organizations linked to Ramulifho and members of his staff employed at his law firm in Pretoria have received at least R60 million in lottery grants. These include a 27.5 million rand grant to Denzhe Primary Care, a hijacked nonprofit, for a drug rehabilitation center near Pretoria, where at least 20 million rand are missing.

GroundUp reported how Ramulifho used Denzhe grants as his personal ATM and to help pay for a luxury home he bought for himself in a luxury “country estate” in Pretoria. We also reported how Ramulifho falsified documents in an affidavit he filed in a case he launched against GroundUp.

Responding to a parliamentary question in July 2020, NLC Commissioner Thabang Mampane said that neither Ramulifho nor his firm were on the NLC’s panel of licensed lawyers.

Nonetheless, she confirmed that “Ramulifho Inc. provided legal services for labor-related matters to the former National Lottery Board, now the NLC. It was around 2014, before the advent of the [NLC] panel of legal service providers.

What Mampane did not disclose is that although neither Ramulifho nor his law firm were on the NLC’s panel of lawyers, Ramulifho had continued to do legal work for the NLC. (Lawyers must go through a bidding process to be on the panel.)

This was only revealed in a response almost 18 months later, in March 2021, by Mampane to another parliamentary question, in which she confirmed that Ramulifho Inc’s lawyers had been paid R5.4 million by the NLC for legal work between 2016-17 and Fiscal Years 2019-20.

It now appears that he continued to represent the NLC until April of this year.

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