Cape Town - The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) has been in the news of late for all the wrong reasons, according to former SA radio and TV journalist, Graeme Joffe.
Following hot on the heels of Joffe's accusations comes news that a SASCOC member and national federation, the South African Sports and Fitness Federation (SASAFF), has been accused of misrepresentation, intimidation and maladministration of funds.
The report into the investigation of SASAFF and another federation, the Western Province Sports and Fitness Federation (WPSAFF), is listed below:
READ: SASCOC report
Summary Fact Sheet
1. This matter relates to a report recently submitted by Advocate Alex Pullinger.
2. This report concerns an investigation conducted by Advocate Pullinger at the behest of SASCOC into 8 complaints made by Dr George van Rensburg (“Dr van Rensburg”) and Mrs Lynette Earley (“Mrs Earley”) of and concerning the South African Sports and Fitness Federation (“SASAFF”) and the Western Province Sports and Fitness Federation (“WPSAFF”).
3. Dr van Rensburg lodged the complaints in his capacity as parent and legal guardian of a minor child, Ms Emma van Rensburg, who was a member of the SASAFF and WPSAFF at the relevant times.
4. Dr van Rensburg’s complaint has, as its origin, the treatment of his daughter by officials of the Federations.
5. Mrs Earley is a former office bearer of the SAFSA/IIFT. She resigned in protest some years ago over the manner in which the SASAFF broke their promises and reneged on agreements pursuant to an attempt at unifying the sport.
6. Both Dr Van Rensburg and Mrs Earley turned to SASCOC after their grievances, and those of other parents, were ignored by the Federations in question.
7. Advocate Pullinger was appointed to investigate various complaints on 9 October 2012. Hearings were held on 8 June 2013 and continued on 26 and 27 July 2013 and 20 February 2015.
8. Advocate Pullinger’s report was finalized and distributed on 10 July 2015. It contains various findings and recommendations.
B. Findings and Recommendations
In essence, after a lengthy and detailed investigation, a senior and independent advocate has found SASAFF to be guilty of intimidation of minors, discriminatory conduct, manipulation of scoring and the relationship between the national and provincial federations and the overlap between the office bearers to be ‘prima facie corrupt’. He also finds that there was a misappropriation or maladministration of funding by WPSAFF and that senior officials on SASAFF were aware of this. He recommends that Mr Barends and Ms Le Roux are barred from holding any leadership position in any SASCOC affiliated federation in the future.
By way of summary, and for ease of reference, the findings are as follows (the below are all direct quotes from the report):
• “It has emerged that SASAFF’s executive considers the Federations a fiefdom and the athletes and coaches their subjects and the SASAFF executive’s rule is dictatorial and autocratic. There are two central protagonists, Mr Keith Barends (“Mr Barends”), the President of SASAFF, and Mrs Lynette le Roux (“Mrs le Roux”), the general secretary.”
• “Given the serious nature of the complaints, one would have thought that bodies such as the Federations, with nothing to hide, would openly and honestly participate and provide all such information and assistance as was requested. It most regrettable that the Federations have, throughout this process, been obstructive and hindered the fact-finding process.”
• “For the reasons that follow, I am constrained to find that the SASAFF executives are not fit and proper to hold office, and I recommend that the sporting codes administered by SASAFF are absorbed into other Federations and SASAFF disbanded as the damage to its integrity is irreparable.”
• “On 30 June 2012, SASAFF issued a bulletin under the hand of Mr Barends, which claimed that the Championships hosted by SASAFF is the ONLY official South African National Championships. Furthermore, that the athletes and coaches of IIFT are not be recognised by SASAFF and SASCOC and cannot obtain Protea Colours.”
• “The Bulletin is, however, offensive for other reasons; it promotes division in the sport, threatens athletes and coaches with expulsion and prejudices those athletes who, in terms of the agreement with IIFT, would have been eligible to participate in the world championships.”
• “I am unable to find any provision in SASAFF’s constitution that empowers its executive to summarily terminate a member’s membership. The threats made by Mr Barends in the Bulletin are a blatant example of intimidation and further that the Bulletin is but one example of shockingly inappropriate conduct on the part of the SASAFF executive.”
3. INTIMIDATION OF MINORS
• “SASAFF and its officers, Mr Barends and Mrs le Roux, by their meetings with the school principals of DF Malan and Kimberley High Schools and through the letters addressed to the principals sought to publicly humiliate the minor children.”
• “This demand and a desire to see minor children publicly humiliated can never be rationally linked to conduct in the best interest of the sport. The acts of intimidation at the hand of senior SASAFF officials do not stop there. Threats of expulsion were made against particular coaches and generally to athletes and coaches who participate in IIFT competitions. There is substantial evidence that Mr Barends has publicly threatened and intimidated athletes and coaches that participate in IIFT events, that they will be stripped of their colours and be expelled from SASAFF.”
• “I find that SASAFF and the WPSAFF, in particular, its senior management, Mr Barends, Mrs le Roux and Mr Oppel to have engaged in various acts of intimidation.”
4. EXCLUSION AND INEQUALITY
• “Nowhere in its papers does SASAFF contend to have declared the IIFT to be ‘in direct opposition’ to it (whatever that may mean)…the stance taken and policy adopted by SASAFF is manifestly ultra vires.”
• “The conduct under the circumstances is arbitrary and irrational. It is also contrary to SASAFF’s constitution and unlawful. Clause 5.1 of the SASAFF constitution states that one of the main objectives and powers of the Federation is the creation of a genuine non-racial, nonpolitical and democratic Federation. It has, notwithstanding this, gone about to achieve the contrary.”
5. MALADMINISTRATION OF FUNDS
• “I find that funding was applied for under false pretenses, used for purposes for which it was not granted and none of the requirements of proper financial controls including record keeping and audited financial statements were in place.”
• “I find that there has been a misappropriation or maladministration of funds by the WPSAFF and senior officials on the SASAFF were aware thereof.”
6. MALADMINISTRATION IN THE AWARD OF PROTEA COLOURS (AND MANIPULATION OF SCORES)
• “I find that the Federation’s rationalisation for its ultra vires conduct to be disingenuous. The rationalisation that a score that properly reflects the score that the athlete can expect to attain at an international event is detrimental to it and obtain Protea colours is correct. However, it is disingenuous to, under those circumstances, adjust the scores to assist the athletes in obtaining the qualifying threshold.”
• “This sort of conduct cheapens the Protea colours that SASAFF purports to defend so vigorously and indelibly impacts on the integrity of SASAFF to administer the sport. In 2013, the over 18 teams scored exactly the same in both the semi-final and the final. Seeing as how these scores were released some 2 weeks after the competition, I find the scores inherently incredible and were manipulated. Given the conduct aforesaid, the manipulation of the scores is self-serving and directed at securing a greater participation for SASAFF at world championship level.”
• “I consequently find that there has been and continues to be maladministration in the award of Protea Colours.”
7. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
• “I find that the relationship between the national and provincial Federations and the overlap between the office bearers, when considered in the context of what he has found above, is prima facie corrupt.”
• “It is unthinkable in a sport where an athlete’s failure or success is dependent, substantially, upon the subjective view of a judge regarding the manner in which a routine is executed that there should be any degree of involvement between the judges, coaches and executives of the sport. Judges must be seen to be neutral, impartial and without an agenda. The facts in this case simply do not sustain such a finding.”
In concluding his report, Advocate Pullinger makes the following recommendations:
• “I find that the current position in the Republic is that there are two national federations awarding Protea Colours for one sporting discipline, that being SASAFF and the other being the South African Gymnastics Federation ("SAGF"). The SAGF appears to have better structures for the development of athletes and coaches nationally and internationally. It is, therefore, a recommendation that fitness aerobics be incorporated into SAGF.”
• “I recommend that the Federations be disbanded.
o As regards the sport of hip-hop, a SASCOC initiative is necessary to bring about the unification of the sport under a single banner with proper representation across the Republic.
o As regards fitness aerobics, it ought to be absorbed into the SAGF.”
• “I find that the SASAFF executive have failed dismally in the stewardship of the sporting codes they administer. Furthermore, Mr Barends and Mrs le Roux are responsible for acts of intimidation that cannot simply be put down to a lapse in judgment but only the absence thereof.”
• “The deliberate devaluation and arbitrary award of Protea Colours is injurious to the integrity of the administration of the sport.”
• “In my judgment, the damage to the integrity of the Federations and the sport as a whole by the incidents referred to in this report is irreparable.”
• “I recommend that Mr Barends and Ms le Roux be barred from holding any leadership position in any SASCOC afflicted (sic) federation in the future.”
A full version of the report is attached for review.
SASCOC will now be considering the contents of the report.