Celi Makhoba cleared after KZN Athletics probe

2012-08-28 00:00

AFTER being suspended by the KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) executive committee, Comrades Marathon board member Celi Makhoba has been exonerated after being found not guilty on charges of fraud and corruption that emerged in February.

Makhoba was accused of signing off and submitting claims for “ghost” officials who were to work at the Kwanaloga Games in December last year. The accusation by the executive committee then was that he had paid money into three bank accounts for the “officials” to work at the three-day event, but that the money was going into accounts of his family and friends who were not employees of the technical committee.

Makhoba denied the allegations and told The Witness yesterday that while he was asked to stop his duties as chair of the technical committee, he had never received a letter of suspension.

When leadership at the association changed hands and new KZNA president Sello Mokoena and his team took over at the end of April, the hearing began under an internal disciplinary committee.

On August 4 Makhoba was found not guilty and he is now awaiting a response from KZNA about his future on the technical committee, although Mokoena confirmed that he is immediately able to fulfil his duties as an official and referee for KZNA races.

“Mr Makhoba has been exonerated and we are very pleased that the matter has been resolved,” Mokoena told The Witness.

Mokoena pointed out the technical committee does not fall directly under KZNA and is an independent organisation, but that it is a standing committee that meets KZNA every month to discuss the hosting and organisation of future and past races.

“Mr Makhoba is not on a KZNA payroll,” said Mokoena. “The technical committee is used when we organise races, but we are under no obligation to use their services.”

Makhoba, also a doping official of the South African Institute for Drug-free Sport (Saids) and the Comrades Marathon’s technical manager, had served as one of the doping officials at this year’s race, in which two of the top 10 finishers, including winner Ludwick Mamabolo, tested positive for using banned substances.

Fahmy Galant, doping control manager at the SA Institute for Saids, confirmed yesterday that Makhoba is still an official for the institute.

Makhoba said he was asked a week before Comrades to relinquish his position as this year’s technical manager, at which point he decided to be a doping official for the race — something he wouldn’t have done had he not stepped down.

“I did it for the benefit of the race,” Makhoba said.

“I will continue to serve as a Comrades board member and will continue my involvement in the testing of performance-enhancing drugs and banned substances,” he added.

“To go through what I went through was terrible. When I think about it I come close to crying.

“I have given a lot to athletics in this province and I am just glad it is behind me now.”

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