Danny Magudulela and Sello Rabothata
The once popular Ibhola Lethu off- season soccer tournament, played in Daveyton, Ekurhuleni, is in disarray after the nonpayment of prizes totalling almost R100 0000 to teams that won in the various age groups in the last edition in December.
Tournament director Raymond Ngoetsana (formerly Hlatshwayo) has disappeared without a trace and is rumoured to be somewhere in Polokwane.
SikaLekhekhe FC of Wattville were the winners of the senior section and were supposed to have pocketed the R50 000 first prize, kit and soccer boots.
Spokesman Nhlanhla Japhta said they had searched for Ngoetsana (Hlatshwayo) everywhere and were told that he could be in Mzumbe, near Kwa-Thema, Springs.
The registration fee was R1500 a team in the open section, while junior teams paid R800. There were 16 teams in each category and they came from as far afield as Newcastle and Mpumalanga.
These teams lodged at local schools during the tournament and there were reports that classroom windows were broken and some valuable items, such as dictionaries, were stolen or lost as a result.
Black Pirates from the Vaal were the losing finalists in the open section and they stand to lose the most since they registered three teams: the Under-13s, 16s and the open side, paying R3100 in registration fees.
Both the junior sides won their respective groups and stood to pocket R11200 while the senior team, by virtue of finishing second, should have received R12000.
Mathi Matsosa, the coach of the Vaal team, said: "We tried to open a case at the police station after we heard that Ngoetsana had disappeared but were advised to go to the small claims court and get some forms for him to sign, failing which a warrant would be issued after 14 days.
"I am disappointed because people are starting to point accusing fingers at me, " Matsosa said.
"We incurred transport costs of R4000 as we hired two buses for the supporters knowing that we had prizes because we were in the finals, even if we lost."
Sowetan tried in vain to get hold of Ngoetsana for comment on the matter.