JOHANNESBURG — Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan famously coined the phrase ‘Join the dots’, when referring to the Gupta family’s involvement in State Capture. And below former CNN International and 94.7 sportscaster Graeme Joffe does just this. He weaves together a piece that exposes what he calls South Africa’s sports mafia. And in it he implicates what many could soon refer to as the ‘usual suspects’. Hogan Lovells, whom Peter Hain yesterday accused of a white-wash in a so-called independent investigation into shenanigans at the South African Revenue Service. Even the former CEO of Steinhoff Markus Jooste is thrown amongst the sports pigeons, having contributed to the controlling mafia, funnelling money for personal benefit rather than to the areas where it is so needed, development. Joffe fled South Africa previously because his life was in danger, these allegations are likely to keep him there a little longer until the dirty laundry gets aired. A must read. – Stuart Lowman
By Graeme Joffe*
SA Rugby (SARU) president, Mark Alexander was one of the two SASCOC board members who voted “NO” for the dismissal of SASCOC CEO, Tubby Reddy, CFO, Vinesh Maharaj and Executive manager, Jean Kelly.
The disciplinary report from a senior advocate was so damning with the numerous charges ranging from sexual harassment (against Reddy), corruption (against Reddy and Maharaj) and collusion.
Alexander chose to be loyal to his “bad buddies” and turned a blind eye to the sexual harassment and corruption.
Why? He is one of the SA sports mafia!
In April 2010, SARU renewed a very lucrative contract for Megapro to be their official, exclusive commercial agent.
The Primedia Group were the majority shareholders of Megapro at the time of the deal and the company was run by George Rautenbach.
But how did Megapro get the deal done without it going to tender as other companies had also put in proposals.
Then SARU deputy president and Chairman of SANZAR, Mark Alexander was promised R500,000 per year of the five year contract to push the renewal through and he went along with it.
A “kick-back” of R2.5 million.
Two of the five payments went from Megapro to the clothing manufacturers, Sedgars to Alexander.
The Sedgars invoice descriptions were; “Consulting Fees on Rights INC SA Rugby” and “Consulting fees on Marketing” – not bad for clothing manufacturers.
And two payments went through a company called “Ambro”.
The payment through Sedgars in 2012 was flagged by Deloitte’s in the Primedia group audit and Primedia quickly sold their Megapro shares back to the consortium in early 2013.
Rautenbach and Steinhoff’s Markus Jooste are very close friends and it’s believed the money to buy Megapro back from Primedia came from Jooste.
Megapro did the SA Rugby/Steinhoff sponsorship deals and Jooste got Megapro into the SA Horse racing scene with the SANSUI Summer Cup.
When I asked Alexander if he had ever received a commission or any payment, any benefit or perk from Megapro.
He replied: “Please deal with Andy our media person.”
SARU’s media person, Andy Colquhoun told me I’d be “wasting my time” by emailing him.
Rautenbach told me that Imtiaz Patel (the then CEO of SuperSport) had told him to give back to SA sport and by giving the funds to Sedgars, they would then look after a development team with kit and equipment.
Nothing about consulting.
What happened after the payment to Sedgars and who was the sponsored team?
Rautenbach couldn’t tell me.
Sedgars answered me with legal threats from their lawyer, Nazir Kathrada.
But I wasn’t the only sports journalist who knew about the kickback scandal:
As far as Mark A is concerned, the story is that he managed to persuade the SARU executive to renew the Megapro deal, despite the fact that Andy Marinos was keen to put it out to tender. For his troubles, he received a kickback from George Rautenbach, although it was channelled through Sedgars, the sportswear manufacturers down in Vereeniging. Imtiaz Patel is also involved, apparently, although I’m not sure how or in what capacity. – Luke Alfred, sports journalist
Patel from Multichoice/SuperSport is very involved and he too was a benefactor of cash from the dirty conduit, Sedgars when MEGAPRO did the Engen sponsorship for SuperSport United.
Engen could have done the deal themselves but Patel got Rautenbach involved to grease all their own palms with the ‘commission’.
Rautenbach requested a meeting with me after I started the rugby expose back in 2014. He started by telling me that I was making so many enemies with my work and what happened to the old Joffers that everyone used to love? And this is how South Africa is and I wasn’t going to be able to change anything.
He then went on his fishing expedition to see how much I knew about the kickbacks but I kept the cards close to my chest.
Patel called Rautenbach whilst we were sitting at the coffee shop in Morningside, probably thinking the meeting was over.
He was no doubt desperate to see how things went.
On 24 September 2014: I received a text message from a former Megapro employee saying:
Go you good thing Joffers on the MegaPro skulduggery!! Just be sure to watch your back with Rautenbach. When…and I left MegaPro he had us followed. Especially now that you’ve got dirt on him.
Sure enough and but it was a lot more than just being followed.
Megapro paid R75,000 to their lawyer, Brian Biebuyck from Hogan Lovells for me to be spied on.
It was soon after that my phone was illegally tapped, emails hacked and I was followed from a meeting in Melrose Arch.
It was getting scary as I was working on my own as a freelance journalist with no luxury of any group to back me up.
I opened a criminal case with the Morningside SAPS which bounced around between Randburg SAPS and Gauteng Provincial before being swept under the carpet.
In April 2015, a private investigator identified a threat to my safety and after four days underground in Johannesburg, I returned to the USA, where I had spent seven years as an International Sports Anchor with CNN.
Alexander’s business record is also pretty revealing. He had been a director of seven companies that had gone into voluntary liquidation since 2000.
And despite all of this, he was elected unopposed as SARU president in 2016.
SARU’s blind eye and silence with the Jurie Roux affair is just as deafening.
How do you extend the contract of a CEO, who is under a Hawks investigation for allegedly misappropriating R34 million while he was working at Stellenbosch University?
The KPMG report couldn’t be more damning.
Roux is also top of the invite list for overseas trips with Megapro and went with them to the Masters at Augusta in 2015 and the British Open last year.
Also, let’s not forget that Sedgars are bed fellows of SASCOC as well as a number of sporting federations and paid for one of the then Sports Minister, Fikile Mbalula’s family vacations in Dubai.
Alexander is close to Mbalula through his SASCOC links and was Chairman of the Durban 2022 Commonwealth Games Bid. The Games were embarrassingly taken away from South Africa after R100 million that we know of, was spent on the bid. Durban was the only bidding city.
Megapro were official hospitality providers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and it’s alleged that Danny Jordaan also benefited handsomely from a briefcase of cash.
It’s just part and parcel for the SA sports mafia.
- Graeme Joffe is a former CNN International and 94.7 sportscaster who investigates corruption in South African sport. He fled his homeland after being warned that his life was in danger.
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