The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has slammed the Democratic Alliance (DA) regarding a robbery involving a courier company hired by the commission.
Earlier this month, the NLC received a request for information from the opposition party about a study on the impact of the 2020 coronavirus on NLC grantees.
The commission said it granted the party access and informed its shadow deputy minister of trade, industry and competition, Mat Cuthbert.
“The request was granted in its entirety and included the name of the successful bidder under RFP/2020-029 and all research conducted by the service provider,” said NLC’s Ndivhuho Mafela.
But the document trove was too large to email and the NLC hired a courier to deliver a USB to Cuthbert.
“The USB was collected from our offices by one of our courier service providers on Wednesday 8 September 2021 and was due to be delivered to the DA offices on Thursday 9 September 2021,” said Mafela.
But the courier service van was hijacked, and the delivery was affected.
The DA accused the NLC of orchestrating the whole incident to prevent them from releasing the information.
“It certainly appears to be an orchestrated attempt, by who we can only speculate at this point, to circumvent the due process of the PAIA [Promotion of Access to Information Act] application and keep the information contained regarding the beneficiaries of this NLC tender from public view,” said Cuthbert on Tuesday.
The NLC then hit back.
“It is disingenuous of Mr Cuthbert to now claim that the ‘the NLC was so loath to hand over’ the information when he has been informed of every step throughout the process of his request,” said Mafela.
“The robbery and the fact that documents had not been delivered on the anticipated date is concerning, and the NLC will investigate with its service provider,” added Mafela.
The robbery has since been reported to police.
“It is simply unfortunate and regrettable for anyone to want to cast aspersions on the conduct of NLC using this robbery,” said Mafela.
Cuthbert has since retracted his accusations.
“I should have done my utmost to make certain of all the facts before issuing the previous statements, and take full responsibility for the mistake.
But Cuthbert concluded the DA is still suspicious of the circumstances around the hijacking because of the nature of its investigation.
Another USB has since been delivered to the DA.