Swimming SA delegation scolded in parliament for late submission of sexual abuse report
Swimming SA (SSA) leaders were scolded by members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on sports, arts and culture on Tuesday after the sports federation failed to timeously submit a report on investigations of allegations of sexual abuse that have engulfed the organisation.
Led by its CEO Shaun Adriaanse, the SSA delegation was given a tongue lashing by committee members for submitting the report only the previous night (Monday).
The report comes from investigations conducted internally by SSA and law enforcement agencies after the sport was gripped by a scourge of sexual abuse of young athletes in revelations that came out publicly in November last year.
Adriaanse was sent packing and ordered to return on a yet to be determined date as his late submission meant members of the committee did not have sufficient time to study it.
At least two swimming coaches stand accused of sexual abuses, as do two administrators for allegedly trying to cover up one case.
Criminal cases were opened against three swimming coaches last year‚ two of them involving cases of historical abuse.
Committee chairperson Beauty Dlulane and the majority of members were not impressed with SSA’s conduct.
“Madam chairperson please receive our sincere apologies for submitting our presentation late,” Adriaanse responded. “It is not due to any wilful act or because we disrespect the committee.”
Adriaanse said he is based in Lesotho where SSA is assisting to deliver a successful AU Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Youth Games which starts on December 3.
Adriaanse added that he also had connectivity issues in the mountainous landlocked kingdom and therefore could not manage to submit the report on time.
“The competition is 70km outside Maseru and you know when you are up there in the mountains it is a bit of a problem connecting.
“I sincerely apologise. We are here in Lesotho trying to assist them with these things,” Adriaanse said.
While most of the committee members wanted SSA to return on another date, the DA’s (DA's) Denis Joseph moved for a motion to allow the swimming body to present their report despite the members having not had enough time to engage its contents, and against a committee standing resolution which says late reports will not be entertained.
“After what we have heard from Mr Adriaansen, our department will now have to tell us when last they made contact with SSA and what were the arrangements in terms of submitting the presentation,” said Joseph.
Committee secretary Zoleka Kula told the members that SSA was informed in late September “regarding this meeting” and that they were reminded to submit a report on time.
“The last time was last week on Tuesday and Friday last week,” said Kula.
The ANC's Vuyisile Malomane reminded the committee of its standing resolution.
“If an entity does not submit a report to us on time they must go back,” said Malomane.
The sports, arts and culture director-general Vusi Mkhize said several attempts were made to engage SSA but the department has also not seen the report.
“So we don’t know what is the content of the report and what they would be presenting today,” said Mkhize.
Sascoc president Barry Hendricks said the sports umbrella had not received the report.
After a brief standoff on whether SSA should be allowed to present, and after the members unanimously agreed to send the swimming delegation back, the DA’s Joseph asked the committee to make an exception with SSA.
Joseph said that “given that the matter is important and sensitive, I ask the committee that we must consider allowing Swimming SA to present to us”. He was defeated.
Even Joseph’s colleague in the DA Tsepo Mhlongo disagreed with him.
“I don’t support my colleague because we will set a bad precedence if we allow SSA to present despite their late submission,” Mhlongo said.
“We have agreed that if a report is late, and we have not had time to engage it as committee members before a presentation, it must not be discussed.”
The ANC’s Mthenjwa Zondi said: “We have a standing resolution chairperson that if an entity does not send us a report or presentation on time before the meeting we don’t entertain the presentation of such a report.”