Lottery set to return after lengthy probe

Kamogelo Seekoei and Sapa

Kamogelo Seekoei and Sapa

The Lotto will be back in June.

The Department of Trade and Industry has announced that the public will soon be able to play the Lotto again after it was suspended in March.

The lottery was suspended after the Pretoria high court found that there had been irregularities in Gidani's bid for the new lottery licence .

The Department of Trade and Industry's director-general, Tshidiso Matona, pictured inset,could, however, not confirm the exact date when the Lotto would return.

He said the board was still investigating all the bidders to see who was best qualified to operate the Lotto. Investigations were nearing completion.

He said the board wanted to be thorough in its investigations to avoid irregularities, which was why it was taking longer than expected.

"We do not want to repeat the same mistakes that we did with the first appointment," Matona said.

He said the board was working with four bidders, not just Gidani and Uthingo.

Regarding the involvement of politicians in the running of the lottery, Matona said it was "not our understanding that the judgment issued by the high court disqualified everyone who belonged to a political party".

He said everyone who still had to collect their winnings would be able to do so at a later stage.

Matona said Uthingo would be responsible for the issuing of the winnings as they were the operators at the time the winnings were made.

Currently, there is about R118 million of unclaimed prizes in Uthingo's coffers plus more than R4 million of the March jackpot prize which is still to be won.

But on the other side of the scale there are also scores of people who are still holding on to their tickets for playing the Lotto in advance, which they obtained before it was suspended.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance said yesterday the government had broken its own deadline for resuming the Lotto.

DA MP Pierre Rabie, the party's spokesman on trade and industry, said: "If Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa has any intention of restoring the Lotto to credibility, he needs to step up to his responsibility and outline how and when the clear and swift recovery of the national lottery will be done."