Johannesburg - The SA Football Association (Safa) has suspended six match officials in the ongoing crackdown on match-fixing.
The officials, who cannot be named until they have been formally charged on Tuesday, were suspended with immediate effect after allegations of match-fixing and corruption in the ABC Motsepe League.
They face counts of match-fixing, misconduct, corruption and bringing Safa into disrepute.
Although most of their alleged activities happened in last year’s national promotional play-offs in Bloemfontein, Safa could not discount the possibility of shenanigans in league matches played this season as well.
Until last week, some of the officials, whose names are known to City Press, were in the national panel and have been officiating at Absa Premiership matches.
A source close to the investigation was confident of a successful conviction based on the information gathered.
He said the matter was already with the police’s crime investigation unit, the Hawks, and the alleged perpetrators could be charged internally and also face criminal charges.
“We have sufficient information to send them to jail right now,” said the official.
“We believe we have a strong case and we are ready to prosecute now. What delayed us was that some of them were not consistent in their submissions to us and the police.
“We needed to corroborate some of the information gathered so far. But we are confident that we have a tight case, and this should send a clear message that we mean business.”
He said they did not want to repeat the same mistakes made during the infamous Operation Dribble in 2004 – which investigated match-fixing and corruption – as most of the arrested officials went free.
“We learnt our lesson then and we wanted to close all the loopholes, and now we are ready to pounce.
“Fortunately, we did not have to force confessions as these officials volunteered the information. On top of verbal and written confessions, the officials also submitted affidavits, so we believe we have a strong case.”
He added that they were not only targeting match officials, but clubs that benefited from the tomfoolery.
“We are following more leads and are confident more suspensions will follow. Everybody who has benefited from these corrupt activities should be brought to book. The match officials cannot go down alone.”
Safa’s chief executive officer, Dennis Mumble, confirmed the suspensions and said the officials would be charged soon.
“We told the selection panel to no longer fixture them.”
He said the investigation would extend to previous play-offs and, “if we are to find that clubs got promoted through corruption, we will deal with them”.
Manipulate their match
City Press reported a fortnight ago that police in Vereeniging were investigating a case of alleged match-fixing involving Gauteng ABC Motsepe League champions Maccabi.
The club’s officials allegedly offered money to Vaal Professionals players to manipulate their match last month.
Professionals have since lodged a complaint with Safa, and the case will be heard next week.
In 2013, the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court sentenced former Bafana Bafana manager Phil Setshedi to an effective three years in prison for attempting to influence the outcome of a Vodacom League play-off match in Cape Town in 2011.
He was found guilty of an attempt to unduly and improperly influence the outcome of one of the 2011 Vodacom play-off matches, and of contravening section 15 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.