Cape Town - Embattled former Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) president Cheeky Watson has responded to the charges of fraud and/or corruption lodged against him.
Watson, along with four others - Nadia Gerwel, Steven Pistorius, Andrea Vessels and Mandisi Mkaza - were arrested by the Hawks on Friday morning.
They were released on R2 000 bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court and upon leaving the court, Watson told eTV he believed the “charges are malicious and that we will get to the bottom of it”.
State advocate Tjaart van Zyl told the Herald LIVE website that the accused face 43 counts totalling R12m for “circumventing the procurement process between the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, National Treasury and Access Management”.
The state did not oppose bail as the accused have no previous convictions and all have fixed addresses.
The case was postponed until May 3 for further investigation and for the arrest of a sixth outstanding accused, who is believed to be in Cape Town.
Watson last month stepped down from his role as president of the EPRU.
It came after SA Rugby announced that the administration of the EPRU was set to be returned to local hands following a series of ground-breaking decisions at a special general meeting in Port Elizabeth.
The EPRU’s affairs had been placed into the administrative control of SA Rugby - at the union’s invitation - in April 2016 to help regularise the union’s affairs as it faced a number of financial challenges.
Under Watson as president, the EPRU plunged into a financial crisis in 2015, with the union unable to pay players’ salaries.
Watson had promised a R200m sponsorship for the Kings but this failed to materialise, with players forced to accept food vouchers following the non-payment of salaries.
SA Rugby was eventually forced to step in and take control of the union which was eventually liquidated.