kaizer denies deal

KAIZER Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung has denied making a deal with the Uniting Dutch Reformed Church in Phefeni, Soweto, involving a nearby soccer pitch.

Motaung used the pitch for soccer practice in 1971 and for initial practices when he formed the Kaizer XI, today known as Kaizer Chiefs.

His denial came at a heated meeting he attended with residents of Phefeni and the church.

Matters came to a head when the church decided to bring in developers to build low-cost houses on the pitch. The developers would in turn refurbish the church and build a mission.

A member of the congregation, Nancy Malatjie, told Motaung to "be honest" and said she was present when Motaung came to ask the church for permission to use the piece of land back in the 1970s.

"You came and asked to use a portion of the land and we agreed," she said. "It is a pity that the then Reverend Tema is dead now.

"He gave you the go-ahead. You know the land belongs to the church."

Motaung denied ever approaching the church.

He said the soccer team had asked Doctor Khumalo's late father Eliakim Khumalo to go to the council to ask for use of the land.

"Khumalo worked there and at the time we knew the land was the property of the council," Motaung said.

"We later went to the church to make sure we did not infringe on their space."

He said he was against the building of the houses.

"My wish is to see the place developed into a sporting venue and I am prepared to contribute to that,"

Phefeni residents are up in arms over the proposed development. They said the dusty pitch was the founding ground of Kaizer Chiefs and therefore a heritage site.

Motaung's parental home is opposite the pitch.

Two weeks ago residents burnt car tyres outside the church to protest against the proposed development and threatened to burn down the church.

A meeting was held there last Thursday. Pastor Zacharia Mokgoebo was booed every time he tried to speak but he stood his ground.

He said the church owned the land and has the title deeds to the land and that the church was free to do anything it wanted with the land.

According to Mokgoebo the church had given Motaung permission to use the land for football practice during the 1970s.