The affordable education loan option
Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal man and his mother, who claimed their R33 million lottery ticket was stolen by bogus policemen on Monday, may face criminal charges over allegations that the robbery was a hoax.
The Sunday Tribune can reveal that the winning coupon was redeemed at a Spar in Wartburg, more than eight hours before it was allegedly “stolen”.
The man who claimed the jackpot, who asked not to be named for fear that his newfound wealth might place him in danger within his community, maintained his innocence.
CCTV footage time-stamped at 11am shows the winner’s elation as the amount he had won was displayed on the lottery machine screen in store.
The father of four, of Applebosch in central KZN, said he had been falsely labelled as a thief after news of the “robbery” hit the headlines.
On Saturday it was reported that Sipho Ngcobo, 26, had bought a ticket with the winning numbers from a petrol station in Hillcrest and claims to have given the ticket to his mother, Jabulile Ngcobo, for safekeeping until the following day, when they planned to claim the prize.
On Monday night, Jabulile said two men wearing police uniforms brandishing firearms arrived at their home and demanded the ticket.
Ngcobo, of Embo township, told The Independent on Saturday that he had boasted widely about his good fortune after the draw.
He was purportedly distraught when he was told of the theft.
While police probed the theft, national lottery operator Gidani disclosed that the prize had already been claimed.
Now the winner faces scrutiny from police and Gidani’s internal investigators.
“My bank account has been frozen because of the case that has been opened and no police have come to speak to me. There is so much evidence that their (the Ngcobos’) story is a lie,” he said.
Recounting the events leading up to his big win, the modest man who works as a driver said he had been struck with disbelief when he compared the draw results to his coupon.
“I had bought the ticket on Thursday the week prior from a shop in this area. I didn’t watch the draw on Saturday and I only saw the results on Monday. I had to look twice and I was shocked and still didn’t really believe it until I saw the printout on the screen,” he said.
“These people are telling lies. They say the winning ticket was stolen on Monday night, but if you see the CCTV footage it shows I was there in the morning, and if you look at the attendance register at the Gidani building in Durban, they will see I went there before 3pm.
“I don’t know what that man and his mother were trying to achieve,” he said.
The winner said he had big plans for the money, most of which he wanted to invest.
“This win will change my life. I know that to make money you need money so I have chosen to invest the bulk of it. With a little bit left over I will build myself a house and buy a car for my family. On Monday I told my wife to resign from her job,” he said.
Wartburg Spar manager Mark Kendall-Ball confirmed that the winner had redeemed his coupon early on Monday morning.
“We have never had a big amount won here so we didn’t really know what to do. We called the lottery hotline and they said he needed to come to Durban with his ticket.
“I know it was his ticket because he had written his name on the back. I lent him R200 to get to Durban,” he said.
Kendall-Ball said he was shocked when he read Saturday’s report about the alleged theft of the ticket.
“If you look at when the ticket was supposed to have been stolen against the footage we have, there are serious holes in the robbery story.”
Repeated attempts to contact Ngcobo and his mother proved unsuccessful.
Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said on Saturday that new information would be passed on to investigators and that charges may be levelled against Ngcobo and his mother.
“Certainly if we find that the man and his mother lied to the police and opened a false case, they will face the consequences, the least of which will be charges of defeating the ends of justice,” he said.
Spokeswoman of the National Lottery operator Gidani, Dudu Ndendwa, said a team of lottery investigators were working with police to ascertain who the legitimate winner was.