Graeme Joffe

Suing won't stop the fight

2013-07-16 15:00
Sport24 columnist Graeme Joffe (File)
Imagine my surprise to get home last Sunday from the Durban July to find a 100 page summons from Sascoc, suing me for R21.1 million for defamation.

It came as a shock initially but after reading through the entire summons, I thought perhaps this could just be an another attempt to bully and silence me.

Earlier this year, Sascoc laid a complaint against me with the Press Ombudsman.

There are nine plaintiffs in the defamation suit: Sascoc, Sascoc president Gideon Sam, Sascoc CEO Tubby Reddy, and Sascoc board members Hajera Kajee, Leslie Williams, Kobus Marais, Mubarak Mohamed, Mark Alexander and Jace Naidoo.

What’s interesting is that four Sascoc board members - Keikabile Motlasi, Temba Hlasho, Jeremiah Segwabe and Merill King - are not part of the claim.

So, there would seem to be some disagreement among Sascoc board members on the issue of suing me for defamation.

Regardless, I will enter an appearance to defend and will continue to fight for South Africa’s sportsmen and women who are without a voice and deserve so much better from our national Olympic body.

The irony of it all is that Sam was quoted at the last President’s Council meeting as saying: “Over the past year SASCOC has also been bedevilled by the amount of time and money spent on  sorting out disputes and conflicts in our various Federations. We have to continue the drive for good governance in our Federations. The more time and resources we waste on sorting these issues out the less time and resources we have on our real task which is to raise the bar in terms of sporting excellence.”

Sascoc are currently engaged in some form of disputes with a number of federations, among them: ASA, Bodybuilding, Karate, SAFA, Powerboating, Rugby League and a big legal case with former ASA administrator, Laraine Lane.

Now, a R21.1 million lawsuit for defamation.

One of my biggest exposes has been the public monies spent by Sascoc. Reddy was in New York, Moscow, Lausanne and Hong Kong in June alone.

New York was a four day conference of which he only attended the first morning’s session.

Last week, Reddy spent three days at a luxurious hotel in Durban for the Durban July. This past week, Reddy and Sam were in the Ivory Coast for the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) elections.

Interesting that Sascoc with all their swagger were unable to get any representation onto the ANOCA board.

Reddy and Sascoc vice-president Hajeera Kajee were standing for election in Abidjan and were beaten by members from of Sao Tome and Principe and Lesotho respectively.

Just another failed election attempt by Reddy in Africa following his humbling showing at the Africa Volleyball (CAVB) elections in 2011, where he stood for president and got six out of a possible 47 votes.    

Meanwhile, back home, Sascoc are in a financial crisis.

A number of athletes have not even been paid their OPEX grants for the last four months.

How does explain that to an Olympic athlete, preparing for Rio?
 
Despite this all, SA athletes have been excelling at the World Student Games in Kazan.

Eleven of Team SA’s 14 medals so far have come from the athletes including Anaso Jobodwana and the first sprint double at the Games since 1975.

Just to think Jobodwana and the other athletes were suspended by Sascoc from competing in the Games as part of the ongoing dispute between Sascoc and ASA.

University Sport SA made a bold move to withdrew their membership from Sascoc to allow the athletes to compete and it’s paying handsome dividends, while providing a slap in the face for Sascoc.

Just shows you how much talent we have in the country and it doesn’t need a dispute between administrators to destroy dreams.

I’ve received so much public support since news broke of the defamation suit and I am extremely grateful for each and every message.

The battle has only just started.

And as Avhashoni Ramikosi said: “Not sure what the Minister is waiting for before he removes these whole lot because they are definitely harming our sports, they behave like they are the alpha and omega of sports. It's time they give way for other sports administrators to bring better and refreshed ideas, I mean Sam Ramsamy have been in this all his life. Does he want to stay on until he goes to his grave! It's certainly clear they want to hang on because of the financial benefits that goes with it not because of their love of sports! This is clearly an intimidation from their side so he can stop writing anything about them so I would go ahead and defend your case and stance! We are tired of being fed garbage in this country, they must be exposed and I am hoping in another 6 months they will be deposed as well!“

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Email Graeme at: graeme@butterbean.co.za

Catch Graeme Joffe on SportsFire every Monday and Thursday at 17:30 on Radio Today, 1485am in JHB, National on DStv audio channel 869 and streaming worldwide on www.1485.org.za. Follow Graeme Joffe on Twitter: @joffersmyboy

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Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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