KZN Athletics executives Mtolo and Mkhatini resign amid fraud scandal

2011-10-21 00:00

FORMER International athlete Willie Mtolo, chairperson of the Athletes Commission, and the chairperson of the Road Commission, Sipho Mkhatini, have removed themselves from the beleaguered KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) executive.

They have yet to satisfy the clubs and athletes about their handling of the fraud and corruption identified in the audit of the 2010 National Youth Run and sample of development projects over a three-month period.

While Mtolo resigned on Monday, Mkhatini attempted only to recuse himself from executive duties. He was due to inform Road Commission members on Wednesday at their monthly meeting, but office staff were instructed to phone commission members to inform them that the meeting had been cancelled as the chairperson had resigned.

These departures come in a week when Athletics South Africa (ASA) issued a press release stating that KZN president Aleck Skhosana had presented a report to the ASA board outlining the steps that had been taken following the audit report.

Amongst other points, it was claimed that the fraud had been reported to the police and that all recommendations from the auditors had been complied with.

This week neither the office staff nor Logan Naidoo, the treasurer recently appointed from within the executive ranks, were able to provide the case number or confirmation of these requirements.

Skhosana and KZN executive member Blanche Moila continue to travel and enjoy ASA board status. Skhosana remains unavailable for comment.

The executive rejected a call from over 26 clubs for a council meeting on November 19 to provide feedback on the audit report.

This denial again puts the executive in contradiction of constitutional requirements that two council meetings be held each year.

The clubs and athletes parties will gather at Westville Athletic clubhouse at 10 am tomorrow to decide a way forward with a vote of no confidence in the executive already a primary agenda discussion.

Said Kevin Bradfield, who was elected in June by the council as chair of the intervention committee to address the audit, “Since the release of the audit report the executive has chosen to remain almost silent.

“The damming findings [of the audit] should have been presented in person, with an explanation to the very council that approved the audit.

“The ultimate responsibility for answering the questions rests with the executive.”

Bradfield highlighted that KZNA is insolvent, but Skhosana has not given any indication of how this is to be resolved.

In accepting the resignations of admin and financial manager Joyce Smith and assistant Sandra Moses days before their disciplinary hearing, the executive effectively supported their walking away without facing charges.

Some clubs have suggested this may have been done to prevent further investigation, which could uncover greater involvement of some executive members. Clubs and individuals have called for civil cases to be opened against the staff members.

There are also questions hanging as to why local government departments and the National Lottery structures do not appear to be following up on the identified abuse and fraud in events using public funds.

“Many people seem scared of Skhosana and the retribution that he may be capable of — some actually fear for their lives if they are deemed to be against him,” said John Hall, the former chairperson of the finance committee who was central to the public disclosure of the maladministration.

“There is real concern that ASA, the government departments and Lotto seem prepared to distance themselves and let it ‘all go away’.”

The resignations of Mkhatini and Mtolo leave many asking why Peter Proctor has not taken similar action to distance himself and the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) from proven fraud. As CMA chairperson Procter is a non-elected executive member and is sure to be quizzed on his support of the executive at next week’s CMA AGM.

Most of the remaining executives are associated with either the departments of Sport and Recreation or Education, both of which have had substantial involvement with KZN Athletics projects.

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