Durban - The eThekwini region of the SA Football Association (Safa), ruled by the renegade “Hoy Park” grouping, on Saturday defied a high court order as well as football’s national authority, and went ahead and held a regional elective conference – risking both arrest and potential jail time in the process.
The faction – based at the Hoy Park football facility in Durban and led by Alpha Mchunu, who has been regional president for 14 years – on Saturday went ahead with the congress.
This was despite being told by Safa and the court to halt the process until a dispute over an arbitration order giving them permission to do so was resolved.
Mchunu retained his presidency.
The move has sparked an angry reaction from the football governing body’s head office, with vice-president for membership Lucas Nhlapo, who has been battling to bring order to the region since 2014, saying that Mchunu’s faction “will end up getting themselves arrested for defying a legitimate order of the court.
“They can’t do this. It’s illegal and against the Safa statutes. A court has ruled and we are all expected to respect that ruling. They are only going ahead with a meeting with those local football associations we have not managed to notify,” said Nhlapo.
“The majority of the local football associations have been briefed and will not be attending,” Nhlapo said.
The ugly mess in Safa eThekwini came to a head in August 2014, when Mchunu’s faction went ahead with a rogue elective congress involving parallel local football associations that they had set up in defiance of a Safa ruling.
They were then stripped of their office and a new congress was held, with the elections being won by a grouping aligned to the Football Transformation Forum, ousting Mchunu’s grouping and electing KwaMashu football administrator Mazwi Mkhize as president.
However, Mchunu’s group went to court to force Safa to appoint an arbitrator to resolve the dispute.
The court ruled that the Mchunu grouping should oversee a new election process by Saturday.
However, on Thursday, the Mkhize faction secured an interim interdict in the Durban High Court stopping the conference until the dispute was resolved.
Hoy Park was on Saturday packed with delegates from local football associations aligned to the Mchunu group – which have to respond to the interdict by January 24.
The media were asked to leave the venue for the election process. A small contingent of Metro Police were on site, but there was no sign of any presence of SA Police Service members sent to enforce the order.
The Mchunu faction’s spokesperson, Eric Smith, told City Press ahead of the voting that the conference would go ahead and that they had not been served with any interdict.
“We are going ahead as scheduled and authorised by the arbitrator’s award,” Smith said.
Safa national spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said that they would wait for the court to take action over the unauthorised election and conference.
“We should respect our Constitution and the decision that the court has made. We received the interdict and we are not going to proceed with any conference, as we respect the rule of law. In terms of what we do next, we will be guided by the courts,” he said.