Athletics SA survives the sheriff – just

2015-04-01 16:43

Athletics South Africa saved its office goods from being auctioned by the sheriff of the court at its headquarters in Houghton, Johannesburg this morning.

The sheriff arrived shortly after 10am at the Athletics House in a one-ton truck with men clad in blue overalls and loading trolleys.

Just across the road, potential customers lay in wait, ready to bid for the furniture and office equipment that was about to be auctioned off. But it was not to be as an official at the scene announced: “The auction has been cancelled.”

The dramatic scenes were the result of unfolding developments in ASA’s longstanding legal battle with athlete Jan Blignaut, who successfully sued the cash-strapped athletics governing body for R10.4 million last year.

But subsequent to intense negotiations between ASA, the sheriff and Blignaut’s lawyers, the contents at Athletics House were spared – at a cost to ASA.

“It [the auction] ended up being called off because we had intense negotiations with the sheriff and Blignaut’s lawyers,” said ASA president Aleck Skhosana.

Skhosana had dispatched board members James Moloi and Jakes Jacobs to the normally quiet office to put out the flames.

Also present were office manager Pieter de Jager and ASA chief financial officer Terrence Magogodela.

They all refused to speak to City Press and referred inquiries to Skhosana.

“We must thank Frikkie Jordaan [Blignaut’s lawyers] and his client [Blignaut] for reaching a compromise this time. They accepted the little that we offered ... This is not only in the best interest of all the parties but for the country. We’ll be trying to meet them again next week and see how far we can go,” said Skhosana, who refused to divulge the amount that saved the day.

An official from the auctioneers, who refused to identify himself, told City Press that the estimated price tag of the goods was about R100 000.

This was the second time in three months that ASA evaded a possible auction. The first event, in December, also had to do with the Blignaut lawsuit.

But this has been a long coming for ASA, who for the past few weeks had been threatened with liquidation if it didn’t settle the R10 million damages as ordered by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in September last year.

Skhosana said previous negotiations in a bid to agree terms between ASA and Blignaut’s legal team had failed.

Blignaut initially sued ASA for close to R3?million for the head injuries he sustained while competing at an ASA-sanctioned track and field event six years ago.

ASA failed to attend the initial hearing three years ago, citing it could not afford to pay its lawyers at the time due to a leadership dispute at the federation.

The new ASA leadership only instructed their former attorneys to hold a watching brief at the trial last year, when the court ruled in favour of Blignaut.

The athlete warned at the time through his lawyers that he “required the payment in terms of his judgment and will, if necessary, bring an application for the liquidation of ASA, should he not receive payment of his judgment in full”.

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