A Sars employee who won R21 million in the lottery no longer owes his child R1 million – because his WhatsApp 'promise' was just another lie

Business Insider SA
  • In 2015 Ntsieni Kgopana won R21 million in South Africa's National Lottery.
  • He promptly contacted the mother of one of his seven children and proposed to pay R100,000 in final settlement for child support, instead of the R1,000 per month he had been paying.
  • He lied, and continued lying, about winning the lottery – until he suddenly offered, via WhatsApp, to pay R1 million to the child.
  • That's how the mother saw it, at least. This week the Supreme Court of Appeal said he was actually still trying to lie, and so does not have to pay the money.
  • For more stories go to

A winner of South Africa's National Lottery is off the hook for a R1 million payment to one of his seven children after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled he had actually never stopped lying about winning the lottery – and so had never seriously offered the child that money.

Ntsieni Kgopana, then an employee of the SA Revenue Service (Sars), won R20.8 million in the lottery in mid-2015. He promptly contacted the mother of one of his seven children with a proposal: instead of continuing to pay R1,000 every month in support for the 12-year-old child born after he and the mother had split up, he would instead give her R100,000 once off.

The money would come from his Sars pension when he stopped working due to ill health, Kgopana said, and he was generously offering a full sixth of that payout.

The mother accepted – but by the time the two met at the maintenance court she had heard of his windfall. Kgopana denied that and, in the view of the SCA, continued to deny it, even when he later sent her a WhatsApp reading:

‘if I get 20m I can give all my children 1 m and remain with 13m .I will just stay at home and not driving up and down looking for tenders’

See also: A US man was ordered to split his R430 million lottery winnings with his ex-wife, even though they were separated when he bought the ticket

The mother successfully used that message to convince the high court in Polokwane that Kgopana had entered into an agreement and had to pay up.

But up to that point Kgopana had consistently lied about his bonanza, the SCA said on Monday.

"The message was sent in response to a statement that she knew that he had won the prize. It therefore constituted a denial that he had done so," the SCA said in finding in favour of Kgopana.

"And in its terms, the message related what the appellant could possibly do in the hypothetical future event of him receiving R20 million."

In part because of Kgopana's "morally reprehensible conduct" – including lying to the high court too about his lottery win – the SCA did not award him costs. But the mother is liable for her legal costs.

See also: US man arrested on suspicion of stealing his roommate's R140 million winning lottery ticket

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