Sports minister calls for 'urgent' resolution in Jurie Roux, SA Rugby matter

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Jurie Roux (Gallo)
Jurie Roux (Gallo)
  • Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa has asked SA Rugby to resolve their Jurie Roux matter with the necessary urgency to protect the organisation's integrity.
  • SA Rugby appeared in front of Parliament's Sports Portfolio Committee where they were grilled on Roux.
  • SA Rugby president Mark Alexander stuck to his guns with the confidentiality of the legal opinion produced by Michael Katz and Wim Trengrove.

Sports, Arts and Culture minister Nathi Mthethwa has impressed on SA Rugby to conclude the Jurie Roux matter with the necessary urgency in order to keep their organisation's integrity intact.

SA Rugby was grilled at a hearing in front of the Parliamentary Sports Portfolio committee on Tuesday where they were giving feedback on their chief executive officer's long-standing legal battle with his former employer, the University of Stellenbosch.

Mthethwa was happy with how SA Rugby was dealing with the matter, but said the fact the case has been dragging on means they needed to find a speedy, but legally secure resolution.

It's the first time Mthethwa has made pronouncements on this issue.

"Action must be taken on this particular matter and with urgency, taking into cognisance what they have said is the legal opinion from their lawyers," Mthethwa said.

"We are on par with how the portfolio committee is viewing the matter. I would say that this matter is damaging the image of rugby and there's no doubt about that.

"That's why we're emphasising this. We're not saying they shouldn't do things legally, but we want to see an accelerated pace and we want to see action taken."

Roux has been ordered to pay his former employer back R37 million because of monies he moved without consent during his time as a senior finance director between 2002 and 2010.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander admitted the organisation had been painted in a negative light through the process, but he remained firm on the legal opinions from Professor Michael Katz and Advocate Wim Trengrove remaining confidential, saying that it protects the organisation from a legal perspective.

SA Rugby received the opinion from Trengrove on 28 April, the day before their annual general meeting, from where it was shared on 4 May.

"We've handed the information to the minister, but we have to follow the procedure on this matter to the letter of the law," Alexander said.

"If this goes out into the public domain, it could be seen as constructive dismissal. That would give Roux a different avenue to follow and could cost us an arm and a leg.

"We need to make sure we follow the letter of the law. We've got nothing to hide as we've submitted all the documents to the minister's office.

"We're protecting ourselves against legal principles and privileges because things we could say in those documents could be held against us in a court of law.

"Things could change in this process, which is why we've got people guiding us in this process. We're not throwing around the term sub-judice loosely.

"We're not delaying the report."

Alexander said Roux's matter, which is handled by a sub-committee that consists of Louis von Zeuner, Sam Ngumeni and Mary-Anne Musekiwa, wasn't discussed at SA Rugby's recent annual general meeting where Alexander was re-elected for another four-year term.

"We didn't discuss the matter of the CEO at the AGM, but we had a special discussion with the [union] presidents," Alexander said.

"We have dealt with the matter and the presidents have been informed as and when the case unfolds.

"We've also kept our sponsors informed and they're also waiting for the matter to unfold."

Alexander also addressed the committee on the progress SA Rugby has made with the administration of the Western Province Rugby Football Union.

SA Rugby's exercising of their step-in rights saw them run into a pitched battle with the union's suspended president Zelt Marais.

Marais didn't make an appearance like he did in the March meeting, but Alexander said they would have been forced into unnecessary legalities if they didn't intervene.

"If we left matters in Western Province's hands, staff would have been unpaid and we would have dealt with another liquidation phase," Alexander said.

"They wouldn't be able to participate in competitions and that would have raised another concern for us because that would have led to lawsuits from broadcasters.

"Our step-in clause is only really applied when a union is on its knees. We allow unions to operate with as much independence as possible."

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