Lotto probe into minstrel ‘fraud’
Cape Town - One of the minstrel associations represented on the special cultural committee set to receive R6 million from the City of Cape Town and the province is being investigated after allegations of missing lottery funding.
The National Lotteries Board has confirmed it has completed a probe into the Kaapse Klopse Karnivaal Association.
The board says its findings have been passed on to the police.
The newly established Cape Cultural and Carnival Committee is an amalgamation of the Malay choirs, Christmas bands and minstrel troupes that in previous years have been divided in their efforts to secure funding for the annual year-end festivities.
The committee will now organise the events, with the city providing only financial and logistical support worth R3.65m to ensure the events run smoothly. The province is providing another R2.35m.
When mayor Patricia de Lille made the announcement of the unprecedented funding to the special committee this week, she said: “Christmas comes early this year.”
But the leaders of the now defunct African Dolphins Minstrels say their dealings with the Kaapse Klopse were far from festive.
The Manenberg-based troupe won first prize in the second division at the annual minstrel competition at Vygekraal Stadium in January.
But they say that since then they have been forced to shut down and turn away hundreds of disappointed children who were once part of the troupe.
And they blame the Kaapse Klopse for cutting their financial lifeline.
African Dolphins’ leader Vivian Paulse said their nightmare began when he approached the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund to finance the minstrel troupe before the 2012/13 season.
The fund, however, advised the fledgling troupe that it would not qualify and it would be best to apply for the funding through an established group.
He then approached Melvyn Matthews, deputy director of the Kaapse Klopse and the man who represents the Klopse on the new committee.
Towards the end of 2012, the African Dolphins were informed they would receive R667 700 from the lottery to fund their troupe’s activities.
But Paulse said they were only given R252 000. “We don’t know what happened to the rest of the money. We never saw it.”
The lack of funds caused chaos in the troupe, eventually leading to its demise.
Paulse alerted the board about the irregularity and their officials came to Cape Town from Pretoria in June for a three-day investigation.
The board’s manager for legal affairs, Tsietsi Maselwa, confirmed the investigation.
“The matter was indeed investigated by the National Lotteries Board accordingly,” Maselwa said in a statement to the Cape Argus. “I can further confirm that it relates to project No 46208 where Kaapse Klopse Karnivaal Association was assisting African Dolphins. Subsequent to the Lotteries Board’s internal investigation(s); the matter was referred to Office of Serious Economic Offences.”
By the time of going to press the Office of Serious Economic Offences had not confirmed receiving the board’s report.
The Cape Argus has seen several documents handed to the board which form part of its probe.
These include at least three invoices which Paulse alleges contain false information. One of these states that a brass band hired by the African Dolphins was paid R50 000 on December 15, 2012.
Paulse claims only R35 000 was paid to the band. Another invoice claims a person who performed uniform cutting services was paid R21 000.
“But the name on that invoice is of the person who handled the choral services, and not the uniform cutting, so clearly these invoices drawn up by them are wrong,” says Paulse.
A third invoice shown to the Cape Argus states that a make-up artist was paid R50 000, but Paulse denies this.
“We never had a make-up artist. And the person listed on that invoice as a make-up artist is in fact the brass band co-ordinator.”
Matthews said the Kaapse Klopse was aware of the investigation and their attorneys were dealing with the matter.
“It is the African Dolphins, they couldn’t come up with invoices for monies we gave them. I have documentation and bank details to prove it. It was a partnership between ourselves (Kaapse Klopse) and African Dolphins, it was a piggy back situation.”
Matthews said not all the money was handed to Paulse because the Kaapse Klopse had to procure some of the necessary items such as material and hats themselves. The rest of the money - more than R300 000 - was, however, placed in Paulse’s account, he said. “There is nothing sinister going on from the Kaapse Klopse’s side.”
Paulse’s fellow African Dolphins co-ordinator and musician Vincent Lindt said the missing money had destroyed a positive initiative in Manenberg, where upliftment among the youth was crucial.
“How can a troupe that tries to uplift the community end up like this?” he asked. “It is a shame, everything we have worked for is lost now.”
Meanwhile, De Lille does not see the investigation as being a threat to the new committee.
Her spokeswoman Zara Nicholson, said: “We have signed a completely new agreement with the newly formed Cape Cultural and Carnival Committee, which is not just the minstrels but includes the Christmas bands and Cape Malay choirs.
“In terms of the investigation by the National Lotteries Board and their reporting it to the police, the law must take its course.
“These are two separate matters, but in terms of city funding it will be subjected to the strict controls of the Municipal Finance Management Act.
“The city has made it clear that the funds to the newly formed committee will be disbursed and managed in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act.”