In a twist fit for a legal drama, lawyers involved in a high-profile lottery case are under the spotlight, not for their courtroom victories but for potentially footing the bill themselves. Nompumelelo Nene, a suspended company secretary for the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), has unsuccessfully attempted to prevent a disciplinary hearing against her.

Appointed among other senior staff in 2022 as part of an anti-corruption initiative within the NLC, Nene has since been seen as obstructing her own disciplinary process. Her latest legal attempt to secure an injunction was dismissed by Johannesburg High Court Judge Stuart Wilson, who declared the application as lacking urgency.

Judge Wilson has directed Nene’s legal representatives to explain why they should not be held financially responsible for the costs of the failed application, underscoring the crucial role of legal advisors in providing sound counsel on the viability of litigation efforts.

Nene, suspended in November 2022, has engaged in various legal manoeuvres to delay the disciplinary proceedings. These include contesting Auditor-General reports implicating her and lodging an unfair labour practice dispute, among other things.

Her recent urgent application to the High Court sought to halt the disciplinary hearing, arguing it would lead to undue financial hardship and tarnish her employment record. However, the NLC countered that the application was meritless and solely aimed at postponing the disciplinary hearing. They argued that Nene had ample time to address her concerns through legal channels but chose to act at the last minute.

The NLC has submitted that Nene’s anticipatory financial concerns do not justify the urgent relief sought and that she retains legal recourse in the event of dismissal, either through the CCMA, Labour Court or by suing for breach of contract.

The unfolding case has spotlighted the broader challenges facing the regulation of the gambling industry in Uganda, highlighting the need for updated tax laws and more effective enforcement to keep pace with the sector’s rapid growth.

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