Nkumane and Safa ‘seeking settlement’

2010-09-19 17:36

The South African Football Association (Safa) and suspended Bafana Bafana manager Sipho Nkumane are engaged in serious behind-the-scenes talks to reach a settlement after Nkumane was charged with alleged misconduct and inadequate performance.

Nkumane, who is yet to testify at a disciplinary hearing against him, has also been accused of displaying animosity towards the association’s top bosses in the build-up to the World Cup, creating divisions in the team and attempting to cause disharmony within Bafana structures.

City Press has learned that at Nkumane’s disciplinary committee hearing this week the two parties agreed to settle rather than pursue the matter further.

Sources close to the negotiations said the case was costing the financially crippled association a lot of money and hence it wanted to settle.

“It is clear that Safa’s funds are running dry and the more this case drags on the more it drains them financially,” one of the sources said.

“They also do not want Sipho to testify as they are afraid that he is not only going to embarrass them but will also expose them,” the source said.

City Press’s sources further added that the two parties were working on terms of a settlement and said Nkumane had been gagged from talking to the media as this might compromise the deal.

Witnesses at this week’s hearing included Bafana head of delegation Xolani Mtumtum, communication officer Mathlomola Morake, team security officer Mduduzi Mbatha and Dennis Mumble, who works in the Safa president’s office as strategic planning and transformation manager.

But Safa chief executive Leslie Sedibe denied the association wanted to settle.

“This is an internal matter and we will make an announcement when the case is finalised. There is no such thing as a settlement as we are ready to continue with the case,” said Sedibe.

Contrary to Sedibe’s statement, though, his lawyers, Edward Nathan Sonnenberg Inc, phoned and then sent a six-point letter which reads in part: “The parties are currently negotiating a possible settlement.”

It further states: “The parties have engaged in settlement discussions but have not reached settlement.

Accordingly, the disciplinary inquiry will proceed on dates to be agreed upon between the parties.”

The charges levelled at Nkumane stem from a series of incidents that took place during Bafana’s pre-World Cup training camp in Bra–zil and Germany.

They include allegations that Nkumane acted in dereliction of duty when he failed to secure the team’s base camp; and that he was grossly negligent and caused Safa to act in contravention of its contractual obligations to sponsors.

When Nkumane was offloaded from the Brazil camp, Sedibe told the country that he (Nkumane) needed to clear his desk.

Nkumane was subsequently suspended in May, just before the World Cup, and Mumble was appointed acting team manager for the world showpiece.

Meanwhile, last week some Safa regions accused the mother body of a cover-up after it rescheduled its annual general meeting from next Saturday to December.

Safa has also been taken to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) by former employee Bereng Kgobi for unfair dismissal after his contract was not renewed.

The association is also involved in another case involving suspended director of commercial services Victor Nosi.

On June 18 an amount of R164 882.32 was paid out to former employee ­Anna Mpetsheni and on July 1 Safa shelled out R406 306.00 to another former staffer, Nomvuyo Mdladlamba.

The money was paid out of exclusive Bafana Bafana accounts rather than Safa’s corporate account.

Mpetsheni and Mdladlamba were dismissed in September 2005 for “violent conduct” after they allegedly had a physical fight on the organisation’s premises.

In October 2006 the CCMA ordered Safa to reinstate them and pay them a combined amount of R332 184 in 12 months’ back pay.

Safa appealed against the decision and the matter ended up in the Labour Court, with Safa eventually agreeing to settle this May.

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