Memo from chairman of Necsa subsidiary NTP Radioisotopes slams misinformation

  |  by Chris Yelland, investigative editor, EE Publishers

In a memo to staff today, Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) subsidiary NTP Radioisotopes SOC Ltd chairman Dr Namane Magau slammed misinformation in certain media [apparently emanating from fired former Necsa chairman Dr Kelvin Kemm and suspended former CEO Phumzile Tshelane] claiming that there are plans to somehow privatise NTP Radioisotopes (NTP).

Necsa has been mired in controversy in the lead up to and subsequent to the recent firing of Kemm, the removal of the entire Necsa board, and the suspension of the former Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane, by energy minister Jeff Radebe.

On 2 December 2018, Dr Kelvin Kemm claimed to EE Publishers investigative editor Chris Yelland that a he [Kemm] had exposed a “treasonous conspiracy at the highest level” to the South African Police (SAPS) and National Intelligence Service (NIS), and that this claimed “conspiracy” was behind the actions taken by Minister Radebe to fire Kemm and the Necsa board, and to suspend the CEO.

The suggestion was that Kemm, Tshelane and the Necsa board were trying to prevent an irregular and corrupt sale of NTP by the energy minister and deputy energy minister to foreign American interests in the form of Lantheus Medical Imaging (LMI), and that this was the real reason for their removal.

Kemm went as far as to suggest to Chris Yelland that the recent resignation of deputy energy minister Thembisile Majola, who is due to leave the Department of Energy at the end of December 2018, was linked to the exposure of the so-called “treasonous conspiracy” by Kemm to SAPS and NIS .

Kemm, Tshelane and former board member Pamela Bosman have since applied to the High Court for an urgent interdict to prevent their removal.

The full text of the memo today from the NTP chairman to to staff reads as follows:


Good morning, Team NTP

NTP Board dismisses false claims published in media about NTP and Lantheus Medical Imaging

The NTP Board has noted a number of serious allegations published in recent local media reports, claiming there are plans to somehow privatise NTP Radioisotopes SOC Ltd.

While the Board of NTP Radioisotopes SOC Ltd generally has no interest in conducting its business in the media on an ad hoc basis, we would however like to let everyone at NTP know in very clear terms that these allegations are completely false. There has been absolutely no offer made by Lantheus Medical Imaging (LMI) to purchase NTP, and the mere suggestion of such is quite frankly ridiculous.

As many of you will know, LMI is a publicly listed American radio-pharmaceutical company, which works with a globally diversified chain of radioisotope manufacturers – including NTP. LMI are one of our largest and oldest clients and we have a long and close working relationship with them. During our unfortunate unplanned and extended shutdown, LMI and many other representatives of leading pharmaceutical and imaging equipment companies and organisations around the world approached NTP to express their concern, and to offer their support.

As custodians of the NTP business, we are extremely grateful for all of our customers and business partners’ engagement and continued investment in our company’s success, particularly as we have now re-started production, albeit at a greatly reduced capacity. This support and encouragement from our customers, stakeholders, and from global industry bodies, should not be wilfully misinterpreted to mean anything else.

In addition, NTI is a wholly state-owned company and is considered a core state asset. State-owned enterprises are governed by numerous regulations and laws including the Public Finance Management Act and the Companies Act, and which include rigorous reporting structures going from the Board to the Ministry, Cabinet, the Portfolio Committee, SCOPA, and the National Assembly. The suggestion that any state-owned asset such as this could arbitrarily be disposed of by a minister is either poorly informed or deliberately misleading.

As the NTP Board, we wish to repeat our support, endorsement and genuine appreciation for the ongoing work being done by the NTP management team under the superb leadership of Group MD Tina Eboka. We have seen first-hand the commitment that this team possesses, and we are confident that, together with the full support of our stakeholders at Necsa and the Department of Energy, we will succeed in reaching our strategic goals and in rebuilding NTP Radioisotopes into the profitable, well run, global market leader that it was before the events of November 2017.

So from the NTP Board to all of you: Thank you for your dedicated efforts this year. It is appreciated.

Do enjoy your festive season and remember that in all you think and do, please act safely both at home and at work. Your family needs you. NTP needs you. And all those whose lives depend on your work, need you.

Happy holidays

Dr Namane Magau


Further reading

  1. Axed Necsa board blames resistance of ‘privatisation by stealth’ for dismissal – by Cairan Ryan, Moneyweb, 18 December 2018
  2. Radebe replaces Necsa board over ‘defiance’ and ‘ineptitude’ – by Lameez Omarjee, Fin24, 7 December 2018
  3. Nuclear sector governance in South Africa heads for the courts again – by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers, 5 December 2018
  4. Necsa board, chairman and CEO on the ropes – by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers, 2 December 2018
  5. State-owned nuclear medicine maker reopens after crippling shutdown – by Karyn Maughan, Sunday Times, 26 November 2018
  6. South African nuclear radioisotope production facility back in business, but… – by Mike Rycroft, EE Publishers, 20 November 2018
  7. Another nuclear safety scare at Pelindaba as management fumbles – by Micah Reddy, amaBhungane, 20 June 2018
  8. Is a nuclear success story about to be snuffed out? – by Micah Reddy, Amabhungane, 5 February 2018