Norroe Williamson provides an update on the KZNA saga

2012-02-11 00:00

COMRADES board member Celi Makhoba, who also chairs the KZN Technical committee, is the latest member of the KZN athletics structure to be put under scrutiny by new allegations of fraud within the organisation.

Ilanga reported this week that technical officials are requesting Makhoba to explain why he submitted a list containing at least three “ghost” officials for payment of honoraria to the chairperson of the intervention committee.

Each official that worked the three days of the Kwanaloga Games in December received R750. Makhoba is alleged to have approved the list containing three friends or relations, complete with their bank details, although they did not officiate, and were not suitably qualified.

Makhoba, a Correctional Services Officer at Westville Prison, promotes himself in athletic circles as a pastor of a local Durban church.

Once again the alleged fraud relates to an event sponsored by the public-funded Department of Sport and Recreation, (DSR).

It was the DSR-sponsored 2010 National Youth Run, co-organised by Comrades Marathon and KZN Athletics that was highlighted in last years forensic audit that proved that over 15% of the sponsorship had been plundered from the accounts.

Makhoba is not only a board member and head of technical portfolio at Comrades, but is also responsible for the appointment of officials at such events. This complex but obvious conflict of interest is exacerbated by Makhoba’s other athletics positions where he sits on the road running commission, discipline committee, and is acting chair of the fixture committee.

“Mr Makhoba has worked his way into so many different positions that he seems to think he is the sole proprietor of technical matters in KZN,” said another technical official.

“With so many hats he is frequently defendant, judge, jury and executioner.”

Although elected by the clubs to the road running commission in 2008, the majority of Makhoba’s other positions were appointed by beleaguered president Aleck Skhosana and his executive.

Skhosana, has previously defended Makhoba when the issue of his conflicts of interest have been submitted to committee and Executive level.

The disqualification of 17 leading runners who ran through the finish of last year’s Comrades Marathon carrying flags of an official sponsor has yet to be resolved, but seems unlikely to reach finalisation due to Makhoba’s multiplicity of roles.

“It is often the case that his [Makhoba] decisions and rule interpretations have proved to be inaccurate and bring embarrassment to the sport,” said John Hall, chairperson of Natal Carbineers.

“Many of the officials do not want to speak out as he has wangled his way into so many committees that those who do can easily be omitted from other appointments or the sport.”

Skhosana, who is also the manager of KZN Academy of Excellence, a public funded organisation linked to DSR, the Lottery and Sascoc, has been served with a legal letter on behalf of over 55% of the province’s clubs demanding a special general meeting.

The sole agenda item is the removal of the entire executive, which under the constitution includes the incumbent Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) chairperson.

The executive had a special meeting on Thursday night, which is thought to have dealt with both the lawyer’s letter and the issue of the latest disclosure of fraud.

At the time of going to press no statement on the SGM had been issued by the KZN office, which could result in the clubs’ taking a court interdict against the executive next week.

Members of a local club were left questioning the sincerity and honesty of Sipho Mkhathini, who was seen attending Thursday’s executive meeting, as his resignation from the executive had been announced in November.

Willie Mtolo, the chairperson of the Athletes Commission, resigned his post at the executive around the same time and the commission declared a dispute with the executive and called for their removal. This move by the province’s leading runners further rubbished Skhosana’s statements that he considered the problem to only be a small group of racially bitter clubs. Skhosana’s statements in Ilanga resulted in his being served with a lawyer’s letter for defamation of character by Hall, whom Skhosana singled out in the article.

Many Comrades runners are questioning the continued involvement of the chairperson, Peter Proctor, in the KZN executive. Proctor has previously stated that it is his board that has instructed him to remain on the KZN executive. Makhoba, Skhosana and other KZN officials are members of the CMA Board.

Although it is known that the DSR support KZNA with millions of rands of public funding, the athletics body was technically bankrupt at the end of last year and are now only able to continue as a result of a loan from the CMA.

Sources confirmed that long-time runner Blanche Moila was called to appear before the Savages Club Committee and told that she must either distance herself from the KZN executive or reconsider her position with the club.

In an interview at last year’s World Championships in Korea, Moila confirmed that her costs to the championships were paid for by African Athletics stating. “I have checked with judges and lawyers: I don’t need to be at KZN [athletics] in order to sit on ASA, Africa or IAAF committees. Why would I want to remain at KZN?”

Moila is chair of Cross Country at ASA and sits alongside Skhosana on the Athletics South Africa, (ASA), board where they continue to deny that there is a problem in the province.

If proven, these latest revelations serve to highlight and confirm the extent and nepotistic nature of the fraud and corruption undermining sport in the province.

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