JOHANNESBURG — A deaf South African cleaner besieged by begging relatives after a newspaper reported he had scooped a 91 million rand (US$12 million) lottery jackpot was not the winner, the draw's organizers said on Tuesday.
National Lottery spokeswoman Thembi Tulwana said the real winner of Friday's South Africa PowerBall draw was an unnamed 43-year-old woman, and not 52-year-old Stanley Philander, a Cape Town hardware store cleaner reported to have carried off the record rollover prize.
Tulwana said Philander had bought — after the draw — a lottery ticket with the same numbers as the winning ticket, but could not explain how the mix-up had escalated into the family being moved to a secret location for their own protection.
"We are as confused as everybody else. It did not come from the National Lottery at all," Tulwana said. "Those numbers have nothing to do with the previous draw."
The Star newspaper said Philander, his wife of 12 years, Diana, who is also deaf, and their two children had been moved from their home in a poor Cape Town neighborhood to an undisclosed location after talk of their purported win spread.
Philander's sister-in-law said the family was besieged by relatives asking for a share of the winnings, and implied National Lottery officials were involved in their disappearance — something Tulwana denied.
"We don't even know where he was. All we know is that one newspaper did indicate that they have him in a safe place," she said.
Even though apartheid officially ended 16 years ago, millions of black South Africans still live a grim existence in squalid tin-shack townships lacking electricity or running water.
South Africa's lottery launched in October last year, and produced four multi-millionaires in its first month. Friday's record prize money was the result of 22 previous "roll-over" draws.
Thanks to TigerAngel for the tip.