“I don’t know, maybe next year December.”
That was Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula’s, answer in an SMS when Olympic silver medal winner Sunette Viljoen’s partner, LiMari Louw, asked him when Sunette would receive the bonus he’d promised.
On 23 August, when the South African team arrived back from Rio de Janeiro, he announced that medal winners would receive tens of thousands of rands from the government in addition to the payments by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).
The reason for the bonus was that the team “had made us proud”, the minister said during his speech at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
In her SMS at 2.12 pm LiMari asked Fikile when Sunette would receive the R70 000 that he’d promised her. Sunette won a silver medal for the javelin event at the Rio Olympics.
A little over 20 minutes later LiMari received the SMS answer from Fikile.
Esethu Hasane, Fikile’s spokesperson, said in response yesterday afternoon that after the Games' medal winners received payments sponsored by Sascoc, the National Lottery, South African Airways and the Department of Sport. These payments had already been paid to medal winners.
On the day the minister made the promise to the athletes the money hadn’t been planned for, Esethu says.
“We don’t promise today and pay tomorrow. Certain processes had to be followed to obtain the money and pay it out. These are processes that had to be established by the government and followed. We give an account of all public funds that we use.
“The money has already been requisitioned. There are now the final processes that must be followed before the payments can be made.
“You have to remember that it’s not even 30 days since the minister made the promise. The department usually takes 30 days to pay suppliers.
“Sunette will get her money. I don’t think it will take much longer. Definitely not until December next year. She will receive her money this year.”
LiMari couldn’t be reached for comment.