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Accusations fly as athletics turf war hits court

31 October 2017 - 18:04 By David Isaacson
KZNA has gone to court in a bid to stop ASA from recognising what it calls the renegade Umgungundlovu Athletics‚ a district that includes Pietermaritzburg‚ the home of the Comrades Marathon Association. File photo.
KZNA has gone to court in a bid to stop ASA from recognising what it calls the renegade Umgungundlovu Athletics‚ a district that includes Pietermaritzburg‚ the home of the Comrades Marathon Association. File photo.
Image: EDUARD KORNIYENKO

KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) president Sello Mokoena has accused his Athletics SA (ASA) counterpart Aleck Skhosana‚ a former rival in the province‚ of backing a move to break away from his organisation.

KZNA has gone to court in a bid to stop ASA from recognising what it calls the renegade Umgungundlovu Athletics‚ a district that includes Pietermaritzburg‚ the home of the Comrades Marathon Association.

The event is an important revenue source for KZNA‚ which earns more than R1.5-million in race levies every year.

“This is a large event and results in a large turnover of fees and has an impact on athletics not only in the province but in the country and worldwide‚” Mokoena said in his founding affidavit.

He said Skhosana wanted payback after losing out in the KZNA presidential election in 2012‚ and was now backing Mac Chitja of the Umgungundlovu district.

Skhosana‚ ASA president since 2014‚ denied the charge.

“The provinces of ASA remain 17 until further notice‚” he said yesterday‚ adding the national federation would have to change its constitution to recognise such breakaways.

“We have not received an application.”

He added the ASA constitution had a mechanism for such disputes.

Chitja did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

In his affidavit Mokoena said he was re-elected “despite opposition from those aligned to Skhosana‚ who was aggrieved by this”.

“I hence submit that Skhosana was part of a faction that did not want me to obtain the presidency of [KZNA] and it is reasonable for me to believe that he would want to circumvent the operations of [KZNA].

“There were factions which had developed in [KZNA] such as that which was led by [Chitja] whom I believe may be aligned to Skhosana.

“[Chitja] attempted to coerce other athletic clubs within the demarcated provincial boundaries of the areas controlled by [KZNA] to form a separate breakaway organisation which became known as [Umgungundlovu Athletics].”

As part of his evidence‚ Mokoena submitted an email Chitja had sent to KZNA general manager Goodman Cele on October 23.

“Umgungundlovu clubs have organised themselves into a structure referred to as Umgungundlovu Athletics.

“The clubs have resolved to apply for membership of ASA ... We seek a meeting with KZNA executive or representatives thereof to discuss the best way to manage this process.”

ASA said after a council meeting in Johannesburg at the weekend it would oppose the legal action.

It also announced it had appointed a task team to probe KZNA on various issues‚ and “noted that KZNA needed to conform to the constitution of ASA and to the resolutions of the council”.

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