JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates, according to assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena, chose not to sign Khama Billiat and did not lose the race for his signature to rivals Kaizer Chiefs.
It’s the first time anyone from the Buccaneers camp, who were reported to have been in talks with the player, breaks the silence around the Billiat saga – four months after he moved from Mamelodi Sundowns to Naturena as a free agent.
Mokwena said: “I know that you guys (media) know that we tried to sign Khama. We decided in the last minute not to sign him. We had lots of talks with Khama, myself and the player. We were very close to bringing him to the black and white. But we decided to protect the change room more than anything else.”
The Pirates assistant knows Billiat from their time together at Sundowns, where he was also part of the technical team led by coach Pitso Mosimane.
“The ratio between the expense, and when I say expense I am not only talking about the salary because I heard a lot of talk about that. But the expense with regards to injuries, and certain other factors – and for the profit that we thought we would get, we thought it did not make sense (to sign the player),” Mokwena elaborated.
He insisted that Pirates were not beaten to the punch by Chiefs for the Zimbabwean forwards’ signature after he refused to sign a new contract at Sundowns.
Billiat was said to have been offered a signing-on fee of R2million, but rejected it, triggering speculation that Amakhosi put a better deal on the table.