Poo exposé ‘a smear job’

2014-08-18 00:00

AN equestrian facility exposed for having filthy grooms’ loos, is worried it may lose key sponsors, which will lead to the sport facing suspension from major international competitions.

And the club has called the articles a “smear campaign” despite acknowledging the facilities were in a hideous state.

A series of exposés by The Witness revealed grooms working at the Land Rover SA Dressage Championship in July were expected to use shower and toilet facilities — usually used by grounds staff at the club — despite puddles of human excrement on the floor.

In a memo sent out to club members, Durban Shongweni Club chairperson Anton Mostert said the articles had undone their good work

“The recent smear campaign in the media … has had potentially far reaching consequences, not only for the Shongweni club but for our sport as a whole,” said Mostert.

He said the KZN Dressage risked losing “one of its biggest sponsors” and competitors might not be able to enter the World Equestrian Games or Olympics.

“[This] hangs in the balance as [national sporting regulating body] Sascoc reconsider whether they want to be associated with our ‘elitist’ sport,” said the memo.

Since the exposé, over R30 000 was hastily raised for the immediate upgrade of the ablution facilities.

Mostert distanced the sport from being “elitist”.

“It would be great to be able to extend the facilities for visiting grooms to use to include a lounge, dining and cooking area.

“Horse carers are our partners; they are essential to our and our horses’ success,” said Mostert.

But Sascoc president Gideon Sam has said there is no plan to boot out the horse fraternity.

“We don’t use terms like elitist. Golf is also elitist, yet we support them. Who is elitist? The equestrian fraternity has only been restructured and is eligible for entry into any major event. They must just qualify,” said Sam.

But the loo whistle-blower Candice Hobday who has congratulated Shongweni for its “swift action” said it is not the only club with dodgy loos.

“I have had reports of groom facilities around the country that are in a shocking state.

“If we want to be a serious equestrian nation and host international events we need to drastically improve our facilities.

“I cannot imagine international visiting grooms accepting what we currently have on offer,” said Hobday.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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