Sascoc has suspended its acting president Barry Hendricks. Photo: @NathiMthethwaSA on twitter
Sascoc has suspended its acting president Barry Hendricks. Photo: @NathiMthethwaSA on twitter

Sascoc’s acting president labels precautionary suspension 'unconstitutional'

By Mervyn Naidoo Time of article published Apr 19, 2020

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Durban - The game of cat and mouse between the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s (Sascoc) board and its acting president has taken a new twist this week.

Eight out of Sascoc’s remaining nine board members voted in favour of placing Barry Hendricks, the organisation’s acting president, on precautionary suspension, on Wednesday.

Hendricks in turn has labelled the decision “unconstitutional” and called for the disbandment of Sascoc’s board and the organisation to be placed under administration.

In a letter addressed to Sascoc’s general council and sent to Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa and the International Olympic Committee, he listed various acts of irregularities.

Hendricks fired another salvo on Friday when he wrote again to the general council and rejected “with contempt” the board’s attempt to suspend him.

He said it was nothing but a mere attempt to prevent him carrying out his duties as the acting head and in so doing they had “besmirched” his name and reputation.

Hendricks has been accused of blocking candidates who availed themselves for Sascoc’s presidency, which would have been decided on March 28, but was postponed due to the lockdown.

Hendricks was appointed as Sascoc’s acting president in January after Gideon Sam, the previous president of the sporting body, retired last year.

As the nomination process for Sascoc’s presidency began, allegations emerged from some candidates that Hendricks allegedly attempted to scupper their chances.

Muditambi “Ntambi” Ravele, a Tennis South Africa (TSA) board member, accused Hendricks and another TSA board member of “unethical conduct”.

Ravele wrote to Mthethwa in February and asked his ministry to investigate the claims.

She claimed that when she asked the TSA official to sign her nomination form on February 2, he told her that Hendricks had not supported her nomination.

She claimed further that the official had sent emails to other TSA board members informing them of Hendricks’ stance on her nomination.

Ravele wrote to the TSA official, and complained about the nomination process and that his email prevented the rest of the board from objectively evaluating and endorsing her candidacy.

She also complained to Sascoc about Hendricks and the TSA official’s conduct.

Sascoc appointed advocate Elizabeth Baloyi-Mere to look into Ravele’s allegations.

Hendricks admitted to Baloyi-Mere that he had chatted informally with the TSA official about candidates.

He remembered saying: “I like to first see people gain experience as Sascoc board members before nominating themselves for president.”

The TSA official confirmed in writing that Hendricks was not convinced about the credentials of two candidates they discussed, and he then shared Hendrick’s standpoint with the rest of his board.

Baloyi-Mere agreed that it was ethically improper for the TSA official to share Hendricks view with the rest of his board, which would have influenced their decision-making.

She also regarded Hendricks’s conduct as improper, unethical, and could be seen as trying to influence TSA’s nomination process.

Baloyi-Mere recommended arbitration to settle the dispute, before holding elections.

Sascoc, last week, informed Hendricks that the dispute would proceed to arbitration and asked whether he would take voluntary leave of absence until the process was completed.

In his letter to the minister, Hendricks said having taken the position which was fraught with challenges, he always acted responsibly and with integrity during his three-month tenure.

About Ravele inferring her nomination was blocked, he said an appeals process was initiated and a process of arbitration was decided.

He claimed the board often flouted Sascoc’s constitution, the Olympic charter was ignored, the media was used to leak disputes and the organisation was on the “brink of financial collapse”.

Hendricks said: “It is my considered view that most of the current board members, especially those standing for elections, have a vested interest in the outcome of the arbitration. Therefore, they are conflicted and should forthwith cease to be involved in any manner or form in trying to resolve them.”

He said that his suggestion to dissolve the board and appoint an independent administrator was in Sascoc’s “best interest”.

In a letter on Friday, he said the decision to suspend him was of poor judgement and showed a lack of understanding the constitution and legal matters.

“I regard myself as the legitimately elected ‘first vice president’ by the membership and appointed acting president.

“There is no provision in the Sascoc constitution authorising the board to relieve, suspend place me on forced leave, without a judicial process having occurred.

“I will therefore continue with my duties as acting president and I don’t intend to adhere or respond to further nonsensical and unconstitutional statements of the board.”

Hendricks said the letter he received from Sascoc contained “lies” and Ravi Govender, acting chief executive, should have protected the board from taking a wrongful decision.

Govender said that they were aware of both letters Hendricks circulated and the “attack was unwarranted”.

“The matter is under investigation. Therefore, I cannot respond to the allegations made about the board or myself. If he wants to exonerate himself, he should allow due process to take its course.”

About the financial state of Sascoc, an issue also raised by Hendricks, Govender agreed that the organisation was “financially stressed” and funding was a major issue.

He said the National Lottery had cut their annual support by R100m and that was a huge setback.

“But our administration is still operating and sustaining ourselves as best we can.”

Govender confirmed the five-year financial review of the organisation which was recommended during the 2018 inquiry, which was led by retired Judge Ralph Zulman, was ongoing.

Sunday Tribune

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