Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste. File Image: IOL
JOHANNESBURG - The National Horseracing Authority of Southern Africa (NHA) has given former Steinhoff chief executive Markus Jooste 48 hours to respond to allegations that he is manipulating and controlling the horse industry in South Africa for his personal gain.

The NHA said it wanted to give Jooste, who is heavily invested in horse racing in South Africa and abroad, a chance to explain himself.

Chief executive Lyndon Barends said the NHA had already made contact with the group that represents Jooste in horse racing to respond to these allegations.

“These are allegations at the moment,” Barends said. “We need to wait until we know what actually transpired. There are processes in place to identify this.”

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Jooste stepped down from the boards of different companies last week, including Phumelela Gaming & Leisure, following Steinhoff’s admission of accounting irregularities.

The retail giant lost about R190 billion in market capitalisation and has since hired PwC to perform an independent investigation.

File Image: IOL

Barends said Jooste had to be given a chance to respond to the allegations.

“We have written to Mayfair Speculators, the vehicle that represents the racing interests of Mr Jooste. We have given them 48 hours to revert to the NHA insofar as Mr Jooste, Mayfair Speculators and his racing interests are concerned. Once we have received this submission we will then decide on the way forward,” he said.

One of the horse breeders in the industry, Phindile Kema, accused Jooste of controlling the entire industry by using his power and influence.

“Jooste has used his investments in companies like Phumelela, Klawervlei Stud Farm, Cape Thoroughbred Sales, and Mayfair Speculators to control the industry.

"The Sun Met next month in Cape Town has been designed to favour his horses as competitive horses from the other breeders that are potential winners have been excluded from participating in the event,” Kema said.

Jooste is estimated to own more than 800 race horses and is a keen horse breeder. Some of the industry players were not available when contacted for comment.

Submissions

The NHA has promised to respond after it has received submission from Jooste.

“When doing this we will take all the facts into consideration. We are sensitive to all those who suffered losses, especially those affected within the sport of horse racing and how it affects the image of the industry,” Barends said.

In the wake of the Steinhoff scandal last week, it was also reported that a South African labour group, the Public Servant Association, has entered the fray and asked the organisers of a Cape Town horse race to ban Jooste from entering his horses in the competition.

In a statement last week, the union said that Jooste should not be able to enter for the Sun Met race.

It estimated that Jooste could earn up to R5million in prize money. The union demands that investigations at Steinhoff must be concluded first before Jooste is allowed to continue making millions.

Meanwhile, embattled Steinhoff’s dramatic fall has caught the attention of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission - and both said they would be launching their own investigations.

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The dti said it would probe alleged governance failures and financial irregularities to determine if there had been any breach of regulations.

The Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages the funds of government employees pension funds, also said it is awaiting further information from investigations by domestic and international regulators and law enforcement agencies to decide on an appropriate course of action.

PIC’s exposure to Steinhoff is approximately 10 percent of shares in issue.

- BUSINESS REPORT