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Lottery legal Manager to pay punitive costs, face disciplinary action after failed court!

Gugulethu Yako, the suspended legal manager at the National Lotteries Commission (NLC),  who is facing charges of taking money from a grant beneficiary, failed in an urgent court bid to stop disciplinary proceedings against her.

Johannesburg Acting High Court Judge Johan Moorcroft dismissed the application and ordered Yako to pay punitive costs, noting: “It is impossible to avoid the inference that this application is a tactic to delay, rather than finalize the disciplinary proceedings in good time.”

Yako sought orders setting aside a decision to suspend her and institute disciplinary proceedings ahead of a review application in which she seeks to overturn the findings of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

Yako was suspended by the head of the NLC, Jodi Scholtz, in October 2023. She was charged in December and informed in January that advocate Mandla Mkhatshwa had been appointed to preside over the disciplinary hearing.

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Moorcroft said the urgent application had been brought some six months after her suspension and “no explanation is provided for this delay”. Yako also challenged the appointment of Mkhatshwa, which the judge said had no merit.

He had been appointed in compliance with the NLC supply chain management process and met the requirements. Yako also complained that she had been suspended by Scholtz and not by the board. But the chairperson of the board confirmed that it had approved the suspension.

On this Moorcroft said: “She has been on full pay and benefits since October 2023. Serious charges have been brought against her, namely that she benefitted financially from a grant beneficiary of the NLC. This is strictly prohibited.” He added. “She admits that various amounts were paid into her bank account, but says these were payments made by a suitor who at the time wanted to impress upon her that he was in a financial position to care for her. They subsequently did enter into a relationship.”

When the disciplinary hearing convened in February, Yoko had objected to its continuation because she was in the process of filing the review application to set aside the report of the SIU, which formed the basis of her suspension.

Moorcroft on this said: “Nothing in the papers support an argument that her rights have been threatened. Her audi alteram rights [her right to have her side of the story heard] are intact. She is entitled to dispute the allegations and the evidence presented against her, but she is not entitled to prevent the investigation of complaints or to prevent a disciplinary hearing from taking place.” 

He dismissed the application, along with an order for punitive costs. 

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