Lottery corruption: Limpopo couple’s bid to hold on to their luxury homes
I did nothing wrong, says Collins Tshisimba as the Special Investigating Unit moves to freeze two properties
- Collins Tshisimba and his wife Fulufhelo Promise Kharivhe are fighting an attempt by the National Prosecuting Authority to freeze their two luxury properties in Gauteng.
- The Special Investigating Unit believes Tshisimba is part of “a syndicate that has been consistently defrauding” the National Lotteries Commission.
- Among other things, he is sole director of a company which received R6-million from grants to build old age homes in Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Neither have been completed.
- Tshisimba denies any wrongdoing and says the money was payment for his services.
Five years ago Collins Tshisimba seemed to have hit the jackpot with his small Limpopo-based company, pocketing more than R12.5-million from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC). But his luck seems to have run out and he is now embroiled in a legal battle with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), trying to have preservation orders on two luxury properties in Gauteng set aside.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) believes Tshisimba is part of “a syndicate that has been consistently defrauding the NLC” through various non-profit organisations (NPOs). The SIU says he was part of a group of people who siphoned off hundreds of millions of rands from lottery grants between 2016 and 2019, money that was meant to uplift poor people and create a better life for all. Part of the money was used to buy property, such as the houses that the NPA wants to confiscate.
Tshisimba and his wife, Fulufhelo Promise Kharivhe, who are both from the Vhembe area, have filed affidavits in the Gauteng Division of the High Court saying the action taken against them is“premised on wrong assumptions and [a] total disregard of true facts,” aimed at misleading the court.
“I work for my money and as an entrepreneur I respect the law. The money I earn I am free to deal with it in the manner appropriate and necessary,” Tshisimba states in his affidavit.
Who is Collins Tshisimba?
Collins Tshisimba, 45, is the sole director of Ndavha Management, a close corporation registered on 15 September 2006 in Rabali, Dzanani, in Limpopo.
In 2016, Ndavha received R6.54-million from Lottery funds earmarked for a “boxing arena” in Storms River in the Western Cape The grant was paid to Gauteng-based Nunnovation Africa Foundation, which had no apparent track record of handling large — or even small — scale construction projects.
Between 20 September 2017 and 20 October 2017, Ndavha received R7.52-million, most of it from beneficiaries of Lottery grants, company bank statements show. This included R6-million from two entities that received grants to build old age homes in Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
None of these have yet been completed.
Tshisimba is also involved in three NPOs – Make Me Movement, Lethabong Old Age and Mbidzo Development Programme – which received almost R54-million in Lottery funding between 2014 and 2021. All of them were dormant and had not complied with statutory requirements in reports to the Department of Social Development before receiving NLC funding.
Make Me Movement received R17.8-million in 2018-19; Lethabong received R28.1-million between 2017 and 2021; and Mbidzo received R8-million between 2014 and 2021.
Tshisimba also features prominently in a multi-million-rand Lottery project to rebuild Vhafamadi School in Malamulele after it was destroyed during protests in 2016. A Limpopo-based non-profit organisation — Simba Community Development Foundation — received R28.3-million to rebuild the school, but a large chunk of the money found its way to individuals, including family members and companies linked to the former chief operating officer of the NLC, Phillemon Letwaba.
When reporters visited the school in 2018 and started asking questions about shoddy workmanship, Tshisimba was identified as the project’s spokesperson. But he dodged questions and referred all inquiries to “my MD,” while refusing to say who this was or to identify the company.
And who is Fulufhelo Kharivhe?
Fulufhelo Kharivhe, Tshisimba’s wife, is the sole director of Thwala Front, a company registered in Louis Trichardt. She appeared in the Palm Ridge Commercial Crime Court early in 2021, along with five other people, in connection with a R1.57-million Lottery grant awarded to NPO The Message. Of this amount, R200,000 was paid into Thwala Front’s bank account.
In August 2022, one of the accused, Christopher Tshivule, was sentenced to eight years for fraud. Charges against the other accused were all dropped, apparently after they had made representations to the NPA. Tshivule pleaded guilty and said that he had misrepresented himself as the chairperson of The Message.
In April 2018, Thwala paid R1.9-million into the bond account of former NLC board member William Huma. The SIU believes that the money came from Lottery funds, but has not disclosed the actual source of the payment to Huma.
The registered address of Thwala Front is also listed as the address of another company, New Lowveld Academy. The three directors of this company are Collins Tshisimba, Humbulani Tshifhango, and Itumeleng Tshabalala.
Tshifhango came under the spotlight in January 2018 after it was revealed that Lottery grants totalling nearly R59-million had been channelled via his NPO, the Konani Pfunzo Comprehensive Learning Centre. Konani received R3.5-million in the 2014-15 year, and a year later it was used as a conduit to channel R55-million for a countrywide project to deliver boreholes in rural areas across the country.
In October 2020 President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a proclamation authorising the SIU to investigate the large-scale looting of the funds disbursed by the NLC to charitable organisations. About 700 matters involving at least R2-billion are under scrutiny, sources with knowledge of the investigation said.
In November last year, the National Prosecuting Authority’s Assets Forfeiture Unit obtained a preservation order in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, freezing several properties. Among them were two houses belonging to Tshisimba and Kharivhe. One is in Monavoni in Centurion, and the other is in the upmarket Peach Tree Extension of the Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate, also in Centurion.
The first property was bought in August 2016 and registered in the name of Fulufhelo Promise Kharivhe. The R1.08-million purchase price was paid by building contractor MShandukani Holdings, which deposited the money directly into the account of the lawyers handling the sale of the property.
MShandukani Holdings was responsible for most of the construction at the Vhafamadi Secondary School.The NPO that received the funding for this project was the dormant Simba Community Development Foundation, which was run by a local boxing promoter. Simba received R25-million from the NLC on 17 August 2016, and five days later transferred R15-million to MShandukani Holdings.
On 24 August 2016, only two days after receiving the R15-million, MShandukani transferred R1.08-million for the Centurion property.
In his court documents Tshisimba says this was just a loan made to him by Mashudu Shandukani. He says he and his wife wanted to buy a property in Centurion, close to schools and other amenities and the loan was paid back the following year.
“I had to work very hard at the time to ensure such monies are paid back, for I valued the relationship we have been having,” he states. A copy of the loan agreement is also filed in Tshisimba’s papers. “We trusted each other so much that signing was not even necessary as we would do on other instances,” he says.
Money from old age homes
The second house frozen by the NPA , the Peach Tree property in Centurion, was paid for through Tshisimba’s company, Ndavha Management.
On 23 October 2017, Ndavha transferred R830,000 in two tranches of R300,000 and R530,000 to the lawyers acting in the purchase of the property. The house was registered in Tshisimba’s name.
Three days earlier, an NPO, Mushumo Ushavha Zwanda (Mushumo), had transferred R3-million into Ndavha’s account. The same day, another NPO, Matieni Community Centre also transferred R3 million into Ndavha’s account. Both NPOs had received funding from the NLC to build old age homes.
Mushumo’s application for money for the old age home in Maila village in the Vhembe district, submitted on 5 September 2017, was approved nine days later. On 5 October 2017, the NLC paid R20 million into Mushumo’s account. At the time Mushumo, it had a negative balance of only R54.95. Two weeks later, R3-million was paid into Ndavha’s account. The old age home has never been finished.
A very similar scenario played out with the Matieni application. Matieni is an NPO that was formed by rural women of Itsani village in the Vhembe district in 1999. Like many of the other cases being investigated by the SIU, this NPO seems to have been hijacked and used to obtain NLC funding.
The application was submitted on 11 September 2017, and on 14 September grant funding of R23-million was approved to build an old age home in Marapyane in Mpumalanga. On 16 October 2017, the NLC transferred R20 million to Matieni. Prior to receiving the transfer from the NLC, Matieni’s bank account had a balance of only R414.05. On 20 October 2017, Matieni transferred R2-million and R1-million to Ndavha.
Tshisimba says he was paid a fee
Tshisimba admits in his court papers that he received R6-million in his account from Mushumo and Matieni, but argues that it was payment for his services.
He says he was approached by both because he has a reputation for fundraising.
“They both and respectively approached me for my services. I remember at the time our target and focus for funding identified was NLC and [the Department of] Social Development. Nevertheless, I duly and legally assisted them. Everything was done within the ambits of the law, I must emphasise this aspect,” he says in his affidavit.
He says his fee was 15% of any funding received. “I was again very clear that I even charge more for such services, especially at the time that we did not expect nor bear much hope, especially from NLC,” he says.
The “engagement letters” for Mushumo and Matieni are attached to his affidavit. Mushumo’s address on a letter dated 10 February 2017, is given as “64 Underson Street, Louis Trichardt”. Apart from the incorrect spelling of the street, this is the same address provided for his wife’s business and also used for New Lowveld Academy. It is also stated as the address for Matieni in its “engagement letter”.
“I was not in any way involved in both NPOs. I am not a member nor had any shares. I just assisted them through my business developments ideas for them to be awarded funding,” Tshisimba states in his affidavit.
But it is the “scope of work,” that Tshisimba now claims he billed Matieni and Mushumo for, that makes for interesting reading. The “invoices” submitted are almost identical. His charges include
- R1.35-million for “Proposal Consulting and Writing”;
- R500,000 for “Business Consulting (Old Age Concept)”;
- R250,000 for “Stakeholder Engagements”;
- R100,000 for “Community Liaison Consultant”;
- R600,000 for “Land reservation (Consulting & Facilitation)” — this did not include the price of the land (In the case of the old age home near Maila Village, the going rate would have been around R20,000 for that size [property.); and
- Tshisimba also charged each NPO R200,000 for “data collection”, but did not explain what data was collected.
The invoices submitted to the court are not dated or numbered, which makes it difficult to establish when the work was supposedly completed.
“And as to whether the project is completed or not, I do not get involved unless otherwise my services are roped in, which I will still charge for,” he states in his affidavit.
Based on when he claimed to have been “engaged” and when the money was paid, Tshisimba would have worked just over eight months for Mushumo and five months for Matieni. A quick calculation of the number of workdays in this time — 181 days for Mushumo and 121 for Matieni — suggests that his “day rate” for Matieni would have been R24,793. By then he was already charging Mushumo R16,574 per day, which would bring his fees to R41,376 per day.
This is not bad for a person who holds no degrees and has no specialist training. In his affidavit, Tshisimba claims to have three diplomas, in areas like office administration and financial management, from colleges. He also obtained some certificates and has enrolled for a BCom in Management Accounting at Unisa.
Tshisimba also says in his affidavit that, from January 2016, he was a trainee accountant with Magodi Consulting. This is the same company that supposedly compiled the financial statements used by Simba Development Foundation in its application for NLC funding. Magodi also prepared the financial statements for Konani Pfunzo, the NPO that received R55-million for a countrywide project to deliver boreholes in rural areas across the country. Magodi also compiled Matieni’s statements.
The authenticity of all these financial statements was questioned in an investigation conducted by SkX Proviti, a company contracted by the NLC to investigate several dodgy projects.
The hearing on the preservation orders was set to be heard in the Gauteng division of the High Court in Pretoria on 29 August. But because Tshisimba and Kharive are opposing the preservation orders both matters were removed from the roll. A new date has not yet been set.
Questions sent to Collins Tshisimba and Fulufhelo Kharivha had not been answered at the time of publication.
Cleaning up the mess
Meanwhile, near Maila village in Limpopo, the incomplete old age home has become a playground for children and a hide-out for the homeless. Left-over building materials have long since been looted and grass and weeds have invaded the abandoned buildings.
In October last year the NLC announced that nearly R65-million had been allocated to finish several multi-million rand projects that had been left incomplete after Lottery grants went missing. The NLC has said that directors involved in these failed projects would be placed on an internal delinquency list so that they could never get further funding. Irregularities would be referred to law enforcement agencies and attempts would be made to get the money back.
The old age home in Marapyane, where Matieni was involved, has been allocated a further R11-million to complete its construction. The sports centre in Storms River, originally funded as a “boxing arena”, has been allocated an additional R4.3-million.
But the Maila village project was considered to be beyond economically viable repair.
This is appalling.
How can the corrupt couple claim they have done nothing wrong when the evidence in the image shows nothing much is done for the heavy billing and funds they received? Reading the article, clearly a lot of money has passed through their hands. I am dumbstruck to think how sad this is for those who are in need only to have corrupt individuals mess with their lives. I blame all officials involved for not being hands-on.
As an astute project management professional, all project undertakings require the entire team on board to ensure a successful and transparent process. These people are not skilled at all to carry out projects. And they definitely have internal official accomplices to be privileged to so much funds. As I'm reading, I picture the flow of these funds which don't match anything the funds are meant to meet. These are liars, thieves and unscrupulous beings towards their very own people.
This is clear-cut right fraud and they must be held accountable. And to think of it there are people of all ethnicities who want to make a difference in all society but can't because they don't have funds and can't secure funds because of all the unfairness, corruption and extreme red tape.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment. I'm so angry and sad to the extent I know this is not my best-written comment considering the nature of the article. I'm really more sad than ever to read about so much money squandered by opportune thieves calling themselves professional and caring beings. Because working in previously disadvantaged communities and on projects you must employ a humanitarian spirit first which comes with compassion at all times. This way you and your company with your donors achieve the social cohesion plans you aspire to.
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