The City of Mbombela is treading carefully on how it will deal with racism allegations against a golf club.
Two weeks ago black golfers, Economic Freedom Fighters, the South African National Civic Organisation and the ANC marched to the Nelspruit Golf Club and demanded that it should be shut down after management allegedly gave white club members a slap on the wrist for allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old black golfer last year.
The marchers gave their memorandum to the club’s management and City of Mbombela executive mayor, Sibusiso Mathonsi.
The municipality owns the land where the golf club’s properties are situated and they have a 99-year lease agreement.
“We have a lease that is legally binding with the golf club,” said Mbombela spokesperson Joseph Ngala.
“And we cannot summarily terminate it without following due processes.”
Ngala said that Mathonsi flew to Portugal after the march and would give political direction on his return this weekend.
“A decision will be taken at the level of politicians,” he said.
Nelspruit Golf Club benefactor, Mpumalanga-born mogul Robert Gumede, withdrew his R1.2 million sponsorship to the club’s Jock of the Bushveld tournament following his disgruntlement with how management dealt with the assault on Jabulani Mabilane.
Gumede grew up eking out a living as a caddy in the club.
Mabilane, a professional golfer, was practising last October when four white club members – Lodgewyk de Clercq, Stephanus Noppe, Jasper Vorster and Rocky Smith – allegedly assaulted him, injuring his right eye.
The quartet allegedly told him that he was not welcome at the golf course.
Gumede was dissatisfied that the club did not charge the four men but commissioned an inquiry that recommended the suspension of all the five golfers for 18 months each. Mabilane has since relocated to Johannesburg to advance his career.
The club has seven black golfers out of about 400.
The marchers demanded that Nelspruit Golf Club’s management committee be dissolved and the club turned into a public entity.