World Cup investors lose R100k

CHANNON Merrick had to leave a meeting with his investors hastily after they bayed for his blood in Soweto yesterday.

CHANNON Merrick had to leave a meeting with his investors hastily after they bayed for his blood in Soweto yesterday.

Merrick, the owner of Soweto Focus Point, a hospitality company meant to cater for soccer tourists, had to face his 250 investors who had paid a minimum R100000 for a slice of the anticipated 2010 World Cup bonanza.

The company joined forces with local businesses in each province to provide cleaning, security, transport, tours, laundry and catering services for 2010. The investors are now angry because they did not get the R2,9million profit that was promised to them.

An angry investor from Pretoria said: "He promised an upfront payment of 30percent in May. He postponed the payments to June 9, but we are still waiting. We have spent thousands of rands buying cars and sourcing other service providers."

The investor said he had sourced four schools and promised principals payments in return for using the schools for accommodation.

Another investor said all she wanted was her money. "We are almost into the second round of the Word Cup, and I have not seen a single tourist. This is not going to work, I want my money back or I would lose my house," she said.

The investors' combined investment with Merrick totaled R25million. Most of them borrowed money and some took out second bonds to finance the initiative.

Merrick, however, said things did not go according to plan and that Fifa "lied" to him as far as the expected number of tourists was concerned.

He also blamed the Department of Education for the accommodation crisis. "District heads have now changed their tune and say they do not want anything to do with the project."

He said his company converted classrooms into accommodation facilities, spending about R7000 to renovate each classroom at several schools. "Up to this stage, we have only received 5percent bookings."

X