SA Rugby boss calls for sports journo Joffe’s arrest

Mark Alexander (Gallo Images)
Mark Alexander (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - SA Rugby president Mark Alexander wants to see sports journalist Graeme Joffe arrested once he sets foot in South Africa.

Alexander has laid a criminal defamation charge with the police against Joffe following the latter's allegations that the SA Rugby boss was involved in corruption.

According to Afrikaans newspaper Rapport, Alexander said he wanted to stop Joffe from continuing with his “illegal and unlawful” conduct.

This comes after a report Joffe wrote on the BizNews website in which he accused Alexander of illegally obtaining money in 2010 when he, then as SA Rugby vice-president, made sure that Megapro landed a contract as commercial agent of SA Rugby.

Joffe claims that Megapro obtained the contract without going through a tender process and that Alexander was promised R500 000 each year for the five-year contract.

Joffe currently lives in the United States, having fled South Africa in 2015 as he believed his life was in danger due to him exposing corruption in SA sport.

“I expect him to visit South Africa sometime in future and I want him to be arrested on criminal defamation charges," Alexander said in a sworn statement.

Frikkie Erasmus, Alexander’s lawyer, said Alexander wanted to “do everything in his power to address the unfounded defamatory allegations against him and is eager for it to be trialled in an open court to prove it is false."

He says minutes obtained from an SA Rugby meeting state that Alexander had no involvement in the Megapro contract.

“Joffe reassures himself that a civil lawsuit against him is senseless and futile because he does not own anything and lives in America. He therefore believes that he is effectively untouchable."

This is not the first time that Alexander and Joffe had locked horns.

In 2013, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) instituted a defamation case of R21.1 million against Joffe following accusations that SASCOC acted dishonestly and unethically.

Joffe eventually settled for an amount of R1.3 million, including legal costs. The payments were made by Joffe’s insurer.

“Joffe is still not perturbed (probably because he didn’t have to pay anything out of his own pocket) and is continuing with his defamatory statements and allegations. His continued excuse that he fled South Africa because his life was in danger is of course nonsense. The real reason is because he had to escape from his creditors. Why did he not go to the police for protection or lodged a complaint?” Erasmus said.

Joffe says he stands by his initial report on BizNews and that Alexander will “soon be further denounced”.

“The truth obviously hurts,” Joffe said. “It’s high time that Alexander admits his transgressions and resigns from his position at SA Rugby. I’m also curious as to why he didn’t act earlier when I first broke the story more than three years ago.”

Joffe said he suspects that SA Rugby’s board is “tired of negative reporting” and that Alexander would have to show "he’s doing something" given the fact that SA Rugby’s elections are around the corner.

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