R10m judgment may cost ASA its offices

2015-03-22 15:01

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Lawyers representing injured pole vaulter Jan Blignaut have sent ­Athletics SA (ASA) a notice of ­attachment for Athletics House in Houghton. The building serves as the ASA’s headquarters.

This move follows a North Gauteng High Court order for the ASA to pay Blignaut R10?million for negligence.

The then 21-year-old athlete suffered head injuries during an athletics competition in March 2009.

Blignaut’s lawyers have threatened the cash-strapped federation with liquidation if it does not pay.

ASA president Aleck Skhosana told City Press Blignaut’s lawyers had turned down proposals for suitable terms to settle the bill.

“We negotiated with his lawyers, but they didn’t take our offer. They wanted R780?000 a month and have even threatened us with liquidation,” said Skhosana, who inherited the matter when he and his new board were elected to office in June last year.

He said the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) could not intervene at this stage, because the matter was taken to court instead of being dealt with by sports tribunals from the start.

It is a standard rule for most top sports bodies to settle disputes through arbitration instead of in court.

But the ASA’s downfall was its failure to defend itself before the court in 2011, saying it could not afford to pay lawyers due to a leadership dispute.

The ASA had intended to approach the court to apply for a stay of execution of judgment after the ruling last year.

ASA attorney Monty Hacker told City Press this week “nothing was done about it” and “that attachment is public knowledge”.

Hacker referred City Press to Blignaut’s legal representative, Frikkie Jordaan.

City Press’ attempt to get comment from Jordaan drew a blank – his firm did not respond to messages or emails over the past two weeks.

Blignaut initially sued the ASA for close to R3?million.

SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam said his office was aware of the matter.

“We have asked Advocate Zola Majavu to assist Skhosana on this matter because he was familiar with the case during his time as ASA administrator,” said Sam.

Majavu was the ASA administrator from April to June 2013.

It was during his tenure that he uncovered the Blignaut ­lawsuit and millions of rands that the ASA owed the SA ­Revenue Service in unpaid taxes.

Those debts still haunt the federation.

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