SASCOC president Gideon Sam protected 'corrupt' friend
SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president Gideon Sam ignored a damning report into a member federation to protect a friend‚ the ministerial committee of inquiry into governance issues at Sascoc heard on Thursday.
Lawyer David Becker also alleged Sam had earlier tried and failed to derail the investigation into the SA Sports and Fitness Federation (Sasaff)‚ responsible for aerobics sport and hip hop — a move that cost Sascoc “hundreds of thousands of rands”.
Some six years after complaints were first lodged and nearly three years after the report was finalised‚ no action had been taken.
Cape Town-based Becker was representing Dr George van Rensburg‚ the father of Emma‚ a member of Sasaff and her provincial body‚ WPSAFF‚ as well as Lyn Earley‚ a former Sasaff office bearer.
Van Rensburg and Earley lodged complaints against Sasaff president Keith Barends and general secretary Lynette le Roux in 2012‚ and in October that year Sascoc ordered an investigation.
Advocate Alex Pullinger led the inquiry in 2013 and he eventually found there had been intimidation of minors‚ manipulation of scores in competition‚ discrimination‚ inappropriate awarding of national colours‚ a corrupt relationship between Sasaff and WP office-bearers and maladministration of funds of which the senior national officials were aware.
The Pullinger report — which came out in mid-2015 after the hearing had been abandoned temporarily — recommended that Sasaff be disbanded and that Barends and Le Roux be barred from holding any leadership positions in any Sascoc-affiliated federation in future.
Becker said Sascoc‚ despite ordering the investigation‚ sent the report to the Minister of Sport and Recreation "Thulas" Nxesi and it has yet to be acted on.
He had received no explanation from Sascoc why it didn’t deal with the report itself.
“It is the complainants’ submission that the failure to address this Pullinger report is because of Mr Sam’s personal friendship with … Barends‚” said Becker.
“[It is] well known that Mr Sam and Barends are good friends and according to a source within Sascoc who communicated with us‚ Mr Sam advised in an informal meeting that despite the contents of the Pullinger report‚ Sascoc would not be taking any further steps against Sasaff.”
Becker said further the inquiry had been temporarily abandoned in 2013 after Barends had said he would contact Sam and have the probe scrapped.
“Mr Barends stated openly in the hearing on July 26‚ 2013 that he would write to Mr Sam to have the proceedings set aside …
“A few weeks later‚ lo and behold‚ the hearing gets abandoned … The investigation was abandoned by Mr Sam to protect and assist Mr Barends.”
Becker said he had been told at different times the matter would be handled by Sascoc’s dispute resolution committee‚ and that Sam would investigate the matter personally.
But the board member handling dispute resolution‚ Mubarak Mohamed‚ told him the matter had not been sent to his committee.
Sam also told Becker at one stage he was probing the matter himself‚ but he had made no attempt to contact the complainants‚ who then took the matter to court.
Sascoc settled out of court‚ agreeing to continue with the Pullinger inquiry and “paying costs of hundreds of thousands of rands”.
Becker said the matter had not been resolved — Emma van Rensburg and her sister had quit the sport yet Barends and Le Roux still held their positions.
Le Roux’s husband was now Sasaff vice-president and their daughter head of the coaches committee.
“The maladministration and victimisation by these individuals [athletes and coaches] … have been allowed to continue unabated during this period and that is very‚ very disappointing.”