Sascoc boss Gideon Sam probed over bribery allegations
The head of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is investigating allegations of attempted bribery against its vice-president, Gideon Sam, who on Saturday will seek re-election for a third term as the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president.
Advocate Norman Arendse yesterday confirmed he had received an email the previous night from CGF president Louise Martin asking about his claim that Sam had offered him a kickback if he awarded a tender to a specific company.
“I’ve been asked by the president of the CGF, Louise Martin, questions relating to the allegations I’ve made and I have [responded].”
In early 2012 it was reported that Arendse alleged that a man — believed to be Sam — had approached him while he was chairing a committee deciding on a R7-billion state tender in 2008 and offered him a bribe to give it to Cash Paymaster Services.
Asked if he still stood by his claim, Arendse replied: “Absolutely. I’ve been disgusted that we have this man at the head of sport and the Olympic movement in this country.”
Arendse, on the executive committees of Cricket SA and the SA Football Association, said he had declined an offer to stand as a Sascoc board member in Saturday’s election because of Sam. “I could never serve under this man.”
Sam again dismissed the allegation, saying Martin had approached him some months ago after the claim had resurfaced in an anonymous email circulated in the middle of the year.
“Louise said, ‘Gideon, what must I do?’ and I said you’ve got an ethics commission, investigate.
“So when I got to Canada [for a general assembly meeting in October] I raised it again because I saw the lady in the ethics commission was quiet and I said, ‘hey hey hey, why are you not talking about this Gideon thing here?’.
“That’s how I am about this thing, I have no qualms about it.”
A CGF spokesman said the body was looking at new information that had come to light recently.
"In the interests of good governance, the CGF requested sight of this new information which has just been received and, in the same manner as the original correspondence, has been immediately referred to our Governance and Integrity Committee," the spokesman said.
"It is important to reiterate that the historical allegations outlined in the original correspondence back in June were formally discussed and it was concluded then that there was not sufficient information or evidence provided at that time relating to the State's tender to form the basis of a CGF-led inquiry.”
Sam is standing against his deputy, Hajera Kajee, in the presidency poll which has seen smear campaigns against both candidates.
Earlier this week Kajee brushed off claims that she was linked to the Guptas, and said her ticket was about instituting change amid complaints by national federations wanting to be treated with respect by the mother body.
Another bone of contention was Sascoc’s tough selection criteria for the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
Sam, who became president in 2008 after a failed bid in 2004, can claim some credit for Team SA’s 10 medals at the Rio showpiece, having spent his tenure setting medal targets.
He has faced other allegations of unethical practice over the years, but he pointed out yesterday that none had resulted in criminal charges.
The Arendse allegation dates back eight years.
“We’ve got institutions here like the Hawks and the police ... If anybody felt something untoward had happened ... I’m not really spending sleepless nights over this thing.”