Hawks to probe Cape minstrels' Lotto windfall
Hawks investigators are paying "serious attention" to the beneficiaries of millions of rands awarded to Cape Town's minstrels by the National Lotteries Board.
The minstrel troupes, famous for their colourful Tweede Nuwejaar street parades in the city, have received almost R41-million in the past three years. They were also paid R6-million by the city and provincial government for a street parade last month.
The Sunday Times has confirmed that investigators are probing the flow of cash between several prominent people involved with the minstrels, whose patron is provincial ANC leader Marius Fransman.
Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi would only say: "There is an investigation under way and it is currently at a sensitive stage. We are not in the position to divulge much. However, the matter is receiving serious attention."
The Hawks launched an investigation late last year into the use of lottery funds by the Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association, which represents some of the minstrels. But the investigation is now substantially wider in scope.
The largest association, with an estimated 18000 members, is the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association, headed by Richard "Pot" Stemmet, who served time in prison for armed robbery. It was paid R40.6-million by the lottery over three years. Just more than a quarter of that - R13-million - was for a "Carnival Heritage Museum", about which little is known.
National Lotteries Board boss Charlotte Mampane is "satisfied" that funds used by the association have "thus far" complied with grant agreements.
The association's attorney, Naseera Parker, said on Friday that it "denies, categorically, any misappropriation of funds". Parker ignored a request for financial records to secure the R13-million museum grant.
Fransman was implicated earlier this month in a votes-for-cash scandal.
It is alleged that he offered to pay the Cape District Minstrel Board up to R1-million if it supported the ANC in last year's general elections. Fransman dismissed the claims as a smear campaign by disgruntled ANC members, the DA and the Economic Freedom Fighters.
On Monday, the City of Cape Town asked the public protector to probe how the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association spent millions from the lottery, city and province.
"It is difficult to understand what [all] the money could have been spent on," said mayoral committee member for safety and security Jean-Pierre Smith.
City officials said they were under the impression that the minstrels were cash-strapped when they allocated more than R3-million towards this year's