Sports minister announces ministerial inquiries into FNB stadium tragedy and Sascoc

Cape Town – A wide range of allegations of maladministration at the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) will be the subject of a ministerial committee of inquiry, Sports Minister Thulas Nxesi announced on Wednesday.

This comes amid fears that the ructions at Sascoc could affect Team SA's preparation for next year's Commonwealth Games.

Nxesi also announced a ministerial committee of inquiry into last month's tragedy at the FNB Stadium, in which two football fans died from injuries sustained during a match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

"It is no secret that these two committees of inquiry were in the pipeline," Nxesi told journalists at the Imbizo media centre in the Parliamentary precinct.

He said the inquiry into Sascoc was in response to numerous and serious allegations of poor governance, financial mismanagement and non-adherence to the Sascoc constitution, and the Sascoc board’s failure to respond to these matters.

Some of these matters had been reported in the media, and others were directed to his office from individual board members, federations and aggrieved individual, he said.

"In the light of these serious allegations, I have decided to appoint a committee of inquiry – consisting of a retired judge, two additional members and a team leader for leading evidence."

'That is simply not acceptable'

These people still had to be appointed, but Nxesi said they would all have experience in the field of constitutional matters, governance and administration.

"Fundamentally, the issue here is that the integrity of our national sports structures must always be above reproach, to safeguard the interest of all stakeholders – athletes, officials, sponsors and the fans," Nxesi said.

"This is also critical to ensuring efficient and effective governance, which is a necessary foundation for our goals of development and transformation."

Director General of Sport and Recreation Alec Moemi said, if there was "internal wrangling" at Sascoc, it could affect the preparations for next year’s Commonwealth Games, to held on Australia’s Gold Coast. 

"You could have the disaster we had at Beijing, where you come back with just one medal," he said.

"That is simply not acceptable."

On the FNB tragedy, Nxesi said the safety of fans should always be a priority.

"It cannot be that loyal fans go out to enjoy a day of sport, only for tragedy to befall them."

'This is a very serious matter'

At the game between the Pirates and Chiefs on July 29, a stampede resulted in two deaths, two fans were critically injured, and a further 19 people, including a child, sustained minor injuries.

"This can never be acceptable – hence the need for an inquiry."

Nxesi said he was aware that the Premier Soccer League (PSL) was doing its own investigation, which he welcomed. 

"But this is a very serious matter, where government has to take the lead by appointing an independent committee of inquiry."

He said government could implement the legislative and regulatory measures that any findings and recommendations may require.

Judge Ronald Pillay has been appointed to chair this committee, and the other members will be appointed in due course.

Both committees have a month after their appointment to report back to Nxesi.

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