August 8 – save the date!
On that day, a showdown of biblical proportions will take place between former SA Football Association (Safa) CEO Leslie Sedibe and his former employers at the Johannesburg High Court.
Sedibe, who is suing Safa for R5 million, will finally have his day in court as he attempts to clear his name following allegations of match-fixing involving Bafana Bafana.
It has been almost five years since the allegations that Bafana Bafana matches prior to the 2010 Soccer World Cup were fixed first surfaced, and the issue refuses to disappear.
Sedibe’s legal team filed the court papers for defamation last June at the Johannesburg High Court.
Last year, Fifa banned Sedibe for five years from all football-related activities after charges relating to the saga. He was also fined R311 000. He has not paid the fine.
But Sedibe, who has always maintained his innocence, still denies any wrongdoing and has now approached the courts in an attempt to clear his name and to get to find out now who was really involved.
Sedibe had previously approached the national police commissioner and the Public Protector’s office to investigate the claims, but was not successful. He had also called for a judicial commission of enquiry.
He has acquired the services of top legal minds Lawrence Hodes SC, who represented Glenn Agliotti in the Brett Kebble murder case, and law firm Phillip Silver Swartz.
An excited David Swartz, the head of the litigation division at the law firm, said he was confident of victory.
“Our client has always maintained he wanted his day in court and finally we have a date,” said Swartz on Friday.
“He has suffered reputational damage and his credibility was also tarnished. We hope the courts will settle this matter once and for all so he can move on with his life. Other things will also come to the fore because we need to get to the bottom of the match-fixing scandal.”
Swartz believes R5 million is a fair amount to ask for.
“All he wants to do is clear his name so he can move on. Remember, he also wanted a commission of enquiry to be appointed to get to the bottom of the allegations as there are many unanswered questions.”
Safa CEO Dennis Mumble laughed off the defamation claim and refused to comment.
“We don’t normally comment on legal matters as whatever we say might be used against us in court. This matter is sub judice and I would not want to be dragged into it,” he said.
Sedibe was banned along with former Safa referee officials Steve Goddard and Adeel Carelse, who were banned for two years each.
Former Safa president Kirsten Nematandani has also been banned for five years by the world football controlling body after being found to have contravened Fifa’s code of ethics.
“There has been much speculation with regard to the match-fixing allegations and the names of many individuals have been drawn into these allegations, including my own name,” Sedibe said.
“I was CEO of Safa at the time. I am determined to maintain and protect my good name and reputation and I am of the opinion that this matter has dragged on for far too long. Justice delayed is justice denied.
“I have repeatedly placed on record that I fully support calls for a full and independent investigation into the allegations, and I am prepared to give my full support and cooperation to get to the bottom of these allegations once and for all.”