Gugulethu Yako, once a respected legal manager at the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), found herself at the centre of a legal storm. Accused of accepting money from a grant beneficiary, Yako attempted to put the brakes on her disciplinary hearing with an urgent court application—a move that Johannesburg Acting High Court Judge Johan Moorcroft swiftly shut down, leaving Yako to bear the brunt of punitive costs.

Judge Moorcroft couldn’t help but see Yako’s legal manoeuvre as a stalling tactic rather than a genuine plea for justice, stating, “It is impossible to avoid the inference that this application is a tactic to delay, rather than finalize the disciplinary proceedings in good time.”

The drama unfolded when Yako, suspended in October 2023 by NLC head Jodi Scholtz, faced severe allegations. She was formally charged in December, and by January, it was announced that advocate Mandla Mkhatshwa would lead the disciplinary charge against her. Yako’s legal counterpunch came six months post-suspension, a delay that Judge Moorcroft found bafflingly unexplained.

In her quest for legal relief, Yako contested her suspension, the initiation of disciplinary action, and even Mkhatshwa’s appointment as presiding officer, only to find her arguments falling on deaf ears. The judge highlighted that Mkhatshwa’s appointment was above board, aligning perfectly with NLC’s stringent protocols.

Yako also raised eyebrows with her assertion that the funds funneling into her account were from a would-be suitor, eager to demonstrate his financial prowess—a relationship that later blossomed, she claimed. This explanation did little to sway Judge Moorcroft, who underscored the gravity of the charges against her.

When February’s disciplinary hearing rolled around, Yako objected to its progression, citing her pending review application to nullify the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) report—a pivotal piece of evidence in her case. Judge Moorcroft, however, saw this as another attempt to derail the disciplinary process.

“The purpose of the review application and this urgent application is to prevent the hearing from continuing,” Judge Moorcroft observed. He argued that the disciplinary hearing offered Yako a fair platform to contest the allegations and the evidence against her.

Ultimately, Judge Moorcroft ruled that Yako’s right to be heard remained intact, dismissing her application with an order for punitive costs. This ruling underscores the principle that individuals are not entitled to impede the investigation of complaints or the disciplinary hearing process, setting a precedent for accountability and the rule of law within the NLC.

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