Pretoria - The lavish Joburg house of award-winning actress Moitheri “Terry” Pheto, accused of diverting funds looted from the troubled National Lottery Commission (NLC), is set to be auctioned today.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said the house would go under the hammer at 11am on Thursday. The property situated in Bryanston is reported to be worth around R5 million.
“The auction follows a preservation order granted by the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria, to the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on November 4, 2022 to freeze Pheto’s Bryanston home,” the SIU said in an advisory.
“The SIU investigations have found that the money used for the purchase of the land and construction of the home came from non-profit organisations that received NLC funding meant for the roll-out of a public campaign and culturally sensitive medical intervention projects aimed at achieving traditional circumcision practice,” it said.
After the preservation order was granted, the SIU said Pheto’s legal representatives contacted it, and the AFU, indicating that they will not contest the preservation order granted by the High Court.
“The SIU was, in terms of Proclamation R32 of 2020, authorised by President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration in the affairs of NLC and the conduct of NLC officials, and to recover any financial losses suffered by the State or NLC,” the State entity added.
“The auctioning of Pheto’s home is a continuation of the implementation of the SIU investigation outcomes and consequence management to recover assets and financial losses suffered by State institutions and/or to prevent further losses,” it said.
In November, the High Court in Pretoria granted the National Prosecuting Authority’s AFU a preservation order to seize nine luxury houses, cars and two Ocean Basket franchises.
These assets were owned by individuals linked to financial mismanagement and corruption at the National Lotteries Commission.
At the time, implicated individuals included Pheto, lawyer Lesley Ramulifho, Collin Mukondeleli Tshisimba, Fulufhelo Promise Kharivhe, AO Residence Trust represented by Mashudu Shandukani, Rasemate Family Trust represented by Rebotile Malomane, Mojakgomo Family Trust represented Thabang Charlotte Mampane (ex-lotteries boss), Unbrand properties represented by Sthembiso Jim Skosana, and Just Cuban Trust represented by Botshelo Cornelius Moloto.
Pheto has previously denied any fraudulent involvement with the lotteries commission.
"I am dismayed to discover that I am the subject of a Special Investigation Unit probe into allegations of fraud relating to funding by the National Lotteries Commission. I deny any involvement in the alleged scheme that has been reported on. I also had no prior knowledge of an application to obtain a preservation order against me, and have no sight of this order," she said.
She further thanked people who had supported her and said she would co-operate fully, openly and transparently with the investigation.