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Joffe satisfied with early findings of the Zulman Commission

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Self-exiled sports journalist Graeme Joffe insists he will be vindicated as the Zulman Commission of Inquiry into the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) digs up the truth behind the “corruption” in the organisation.
by JACK MILNER | Mar 08, 2018

Joffe has been investigating maladministration in South African sport, and at Sascoc in particular, since 2011. For most of that time he was called a liar and a troublemaker. In 2015, he finally fled South Africa after he believed his life was under threat.

He is pleased that the commission, headed by retired judge Ralph Zulman, includes former managing director of the United Cricket Board Dr Ali Bacher and labour law expert Shamima Gaibie. The commission was announced by former sports minister Thulas Nxesi in April last year and got under way on February 11.

A bleak picture is being painted with regard to governance and administration at the highest levels of South African sport, according to Zulman. “I get the impression, and I hope I’m wrong, that there is complete chaos in the affairs of Sascoc,” Zulman told The Citizen last month.

He said the evidence that the commission had heard did not bode well for senior Sascoc employees or board members, many of whom were due to appear at a later stage in the inquiry. In just the first three days of the six-week process, there were 18 individuals giving testimony under oath.

“That’s not my final conclusion, obviously, which is why we will be sitting here for more days to see what’s going on. But every witness who has spoken to us has testified to the lack of organisation in the organisation, starting at the top,” Zulman said.

“It troubles me very much that senior administration seems to play a very inactive role.”

Joffe, a relentless critic of Sascoc who is now in the US, told the SA Jewish Report on Tuesday: “Having exposed Sascoc corruption, lies, nepotism, greed, complicit federations and the poor treatment of athletes, I am not surprised to see what’s coming out at the ministerial inquiry.

“But South African sport was denied justice with Hollard taking a business decision to settle my defamation lawsuit.”

Last year, Hollard – which had insured Joffe against court action – chose to settle his case against Sascoc for R1.3 million, an action the journalist says he vehemently opposed. “I did not settle with Sascoc. I did not pay them one cent and there was no apology or retraction. I wanted Sascoc in court as soon as possible.”

Then last month, SA Rugby (SARU) president Mark Alexander laid a criminal defamation charge with the police against Joffe, following the latter’s allegations that Alexander was involved in corruption.

Alexander said he wanted to stop Joffe from continuing with his “illegal and unlawful” conduct.

This followed a report that Joffe wrote on the website BizNews, in which he fingered Alexander – who was then vice-president of SARU – for illegally obtaining money in 2010.

He accused Alexander of ensuring that the lucrative contract SARU had with its commercial agent Megapro was renewed, without going to tender. Joffe claims that Alexander was promised R500 000 each year for the five-year contract.

Alexander responded in a sworn statement: “I expect him to visit South Africa sometime in future, and I want him to be arrested on criminal defamation charges.”

Joffe’s response to that was: “Alexander must be getting desperate. More than three years after I first exposed him in one of the Megapro kickback scandals, he now wants me arrested for criminal defamation according to his lawyer, Frikkie Erasmus!”

Now Joffe has added to the rugby controversy by questioning the selection of new rugby coach Rassie Erasmus. “He got a six-year contract, which is totally unprecedented if you compare it to more recent Bok coaches such as Allister Coetzee, Heyneke Meyer and Jake White. All got four years and Peter de Villiers initially only got two years. There are 10 questions I would like Erasmus to answer,” said Joffe as he launched a tirade on social media.

The questions include the following: Did Erasmus apply for the job or was it offered to him by SARU? Was he able to select his own coaching staff? Mzwandile Stick was sacked as the Bok backline coach in 2017, but Erasmus has brought him back. In what role, and did he consider any other black coaches? Does he have a performance clause in his contract?

Joffe has also questioned the role of lawyer Frikkie Erasmus, who is the new coach’s personal lawyer and business partner along with SARU CEO Jurie Roux. Frikkie is also the lawyer for SARU and draws up all the staff contracts. “Did he draw up and negotiate your deal?” asks Joffe of the new rugby coach.

“You have an IT company contract with SARU, you own a share of BokPulse (the only supplement supplier to SARU) with Jurie Roux and Frikkie Erasmus. Is this not a conflict of interests?” Joffe goes on to ask.

And, in a recent tweet, Joffe writes: “There’s no need for due process with HR for any of the appointments. Rassie gets what he wants!”

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