Linda Moreotsene and Mcelwa Nchabeleng
Platinum Stars have once again pledged to stand by midfielder Jabu Mahlangu, who has gone AWOL from the club.
Chairman George Khunou was yesterday adamant that they had made a commitment to stand by the player. Mahlangu has allegedly not been to training at the team's Modderfontein headquarters since last Thursday. No one has heard from him since.
"I have not been fully briefed by the technical staff, but we will still play a supportive role to our player. Our commitment to him does not change," he said.
Mahlangu was absent from the team in Potchefstroom on Saturday. Coach Miguel Gamondi would not comment on the midfielder's whereabouts, but denied that defender Mbulelo "OJ" Mabizela had also disappeared.
"OJ did not go AWOL. He asked for permission to go home to Maritzburg for the weekend and it was granted," Gamondi said.
Mahlangu is a repeat offender and sources within the Tycoons camp said his behaviour was disruptive to the team.
"Jabu has been causing problems in the team. It's not the first time that he's done this, but what action did the club take against him? None, and so don't be surprised when other players follow suit," said a senior official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Mahlangu's indiscretions to date include:
l 2001 - Going on a drinking binge in Bethlehem with team mate Patrick "Ace" Mbuthu while still with Kaizer Chiefs.
l Failed to pitch for a Bafana Bafana training camp, forcing then coach Carlos Queiroz to drop him from the preliminary African Cup of Nations squad.
l September 2002 - Missed Bafana's flight for an Afcon qualifier against Ivory Coast.
l 2002 - Booked into the Musicians and Artists Assistance Programme of South Africa, a rehabilitation centre owned by Hugh Masekela, for six weeks.
l 2002 - Made headlines when arrested for abduction after he disappeared with a 16-year-old Soweto schoolgirl.
l 2004 - Went missing from Chiefs on the eve of a crucial Absa Cup clash against Sundowns.
l 2005 - Dismissed by Austrian club SV Mattersburg after he was involved in a second drink-driving incident. In one incident, his car rolled off a highway after he fell asleep after a drinking spree.
He changed his surname, Pule, to Mahlangu, allegedly to appease his ancestors.
Since turning professional, Mahlangu has left a trail of unhappy employers in his wake.
He was thrown a lifeline by Muhsin Ertugral who brought him to Mattersburg in April 2005. He lasted just eight months. SuperSport United were his next home, but they also had to send him - twice - to a rehabilitation clinic. They sacked him in 2005 after he missed several training sessions.
But Orlando Pirates boss Irvin Khoza gave the former international yet another chance in 2007.
He reportedly absconded, arrived drunk at training and Pirates chose not to renew his one-year contract.