23 August 2017

South Africa: Minister Nxesi Sets Out Terms for Sascoc Probe

Sports and Recreation Minister Thulas Nxesi has announced the terms of reference for two Ministerial Committees of Inquiries.

The inquiries relate to alleged issues of governance and non-compliance by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and the FNB Stadium stampede in which two people died.

Speaking at a briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday, Minister Nxesi said a retired judge, together with two additional members as well as a team leader, will lead the Ministerial Committee of Inquiry.

The inquiry will look into board related governance issues and non-adherence to SASCOC's constitution, which impact negatively on SASCOC and sport in general.

Minister Nxesi said the integrity of national sports structures must always be above reproach to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders including athletes, officials, sponsors and the fans.

"This is also critical to ensuring efficient and effective governance, which is a necessary foundation for our goals of development and transformation. It is no secret that these two committees of inquiry were in the pipeline. Today I am officially announcing the terms of reference, which will guide the work of these committees which are appointed in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act and its Treasury Regulations, read with section 13 of the National Sport and Recreation Act," he said.

Some of the issues that had been directed to the Minister's office include allegations of poor governance, financial mismanagement and non-adherence to the Sascoc constitution. These serious allegations, said Minister Nxesi, were raised by individual board members, national federations and aggrieved individuals.

The inquiry will make findings, report on and make recommendations in relation to the board-related governance issues at Sascoc.

Details of the retired judge to chair the Sascoc Committee of Inquiry and the two assistants will be announced in due course.

Performance

Director General of the department, Alec Moemi, said the department does not believe that South Africa's performance was affected at the recent at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in London.

"We do not believe that the current turmoil would have affected, specifically because London was not the responsibility of Sascoc," said Moemi.

However, Moemi said the department is concerned about the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which will take place in Australia.

"We are concerned about team preparation and what needs to be done at this stage. It takes a much longer period than a year [to prepare]. The work around selection of that team takes place much earlier. The administration around the agreements with the federations, the criteria for selection and qualification has to be signed much earlier," said Moemi.

Moemi said it would be remiss for the Minister not to do anything. "We have to intervene."

Inquiry into FNB stampede

Minister Nxesi also announced the terms of reference of the Ministerial Committees of Inquiry into the stampede at a soccer match at FNB stadium, which claimed the lives of two people, with several more being injured.

The stampede took place during the Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates on 29 July.

A retired judge (Ronal Pillay), two additional members and a team leader for leading evidence, will be appointed to investigate and report to the Minister on the circumstances which resulted in the death and injury of spectators at the soccer match.

Two fans were critically injured and a further 19 people sustained minor injuries.

Minister Nxesi said the safety of fans must always be a priority.

"It cannot be that loyal fans go out to enjoy a day of sport, only for tragedy to befall them. I am aware that the PSL is to hold its own investigation and we welcome that. But this is a very serious matter, where government has to take the lead by appointing an independent committee of inquiry."

It is also government that can implement legislative and regulatory measures that any findings and recommendations may require, he said.

Minister Nxesi did not want to speculate on possible causes of the incident. However, the issue of stadium design would be reviewed and investigated.

"We are informed that the 2010 stadia were world-class in terms of safety features. The inquiry will need to interrogate this," he said, adding that government legislation -- the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act, 2010 -- will need to be reviewed in response to any findings by the Committee of Inquiry.

The inquiry will also seek to determine whether the law was contravened. If violations are uncovered by the inquiry, these will automatically be referred by the chairperson of the inquiry to the NPA for prosecution.

The inquiry will also look at the effectiveness of operational planning and procedures and make findings and recommendations accordingly.

The terms of reference require that both committees of inquiry report back to the Minister within one month of their appointment.

"They might come back and say there is still a lot to be done. What we don't want to do is pre-empt the investigation," said the Minister.

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