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Suspended Sascoc president slams minister Mthethwa, calls for board to be dissolved

Barry Hendricks of Sascoc, placed on a leave of absence from Wednesday, has written to the presidents of all member federations, as well as sports minister Nathi Mthethwa and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Barry Hendricks of Sascoc, placed on a leave of absence from Wednesday, has written to the presidents of all member federations, as well as sports minister Nathi Mthethwa and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Image: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images

Barry Hendricks has hit back at his suspension as acting president of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), saying the organisation’s board should be dissolved and an independent administrator appointed.

In a letter addressed to the presidents of all sports federations that make up Sascoc, Hendricks said the board was failing in its duties while the organisation was on the brink of “financial collapse”. 

The administrator should smooth things over until elections — which were postponed amid the Covid-19 crisis — could be held, he said.

This was one of three missives Hendricks sent. The other two went to sport minister Nathi Mthethwa and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — while the board was agreeing to place him on a leave of absence on Wednesday.

Hendricks was provisionally suspended pending arbitration after receiving a report by a lawyer who was employed to examine allegations of unethical conduct against him  for allegedly blocking Ntambi Ravele from standing against him in the upcoming Sascoc elections.

Hendricks has denied the allegation.

The lawyer, advocate Baloyi-Mere, recommended the matter go to arbitration.

In his letter to Mthethwa, Hendricks took issue with the minister for writing to the IOC and inviting them to intervene and resolve what he termed “unhealthy developments around Sascoc”. 

In that letter, Mthethwa laid out the allegations against Hendricks and pointed out another controversial issue: that nominees for the Sascoc presidency had been disqualified by the nominations committee. He also accused Hendricks of trying to interfere in the minister’s attempt to resolve the issues by having them brokered.

Hendricks told the minister that his efforts to broker the dispute, however, could be seen as interference.

He also suggested that someone within Sascoc was feeding the ministry with information about his case.

“This of course places me in a terrible position, as you and your office are now discussing confidential board information about me with other board members and seem to have formed an opinion on that basis — and furthermore [are] sharing this confidential information about the organisation and me with outside parties.”

Hendricks pointed out that on the issue of the disqualified nominees, he believed they should all be allowed to enter the election, but that wasn’t up to him.

This too is being investigated independently.

Many of the board members who agreed to suspend Hendricks are planning on standing for the elections.

“It is my considered view that most of the current board members, especially those standing for elections, have a vested interest in the outcome of the arbitrations and therefore are conflicted and should forthwith cease to be involved in any manner or form in trying to resolve them,” Hendricks said in his letter to the sports presidents.

“It is unfortunately clear that the Sascoc board is still failing in its duties and responsibilities, and in my mind is incapable of self-correcting on its own.”

He made the following claims, among others:

  • the Sascoc board “is still divided and is in conflict” and this was “worsened by the upcoming elections”; 
  • the Sascoc constitution was “being flouted by board members by them resorting to the media to air their opinions and disputes, instead of first following the internal dispute processes required by the constitution”; 
  • The “organisation is on the brink of a financial collapse due to a lack of income, continued litigation and transparency — in spite of many questions posed to the finance committee on the financial status of the organisation”; 
  • The board was no longer composed as required by the Sascoc constitution because it comprised too many co-opted members; 
  • The board had not yet formed a judicial body, as required by the Sascoc general assembly; and
  • Sascoc was at financial risk because litigation was becoming unbearable.

“This has a direct impact on staff salaries, OPEX (Operation Excellence) funding and the operation of the organisation,” he added.

Hendricks’ letter was supported by Swimming SA president Alan Fritz, who had previously called for the Sascoc board to step down.

“I will engage with the [SSA] executive with a view that I support the dissolution of the board with immediate effect,” Fritz wrote in a reply-to-all e-mail.  

The board said in a statement late on Wednesday that it had not sanctioned the communication issued by Hendricks.

Aleck Skhosana, the president of Athletics SA, will take over as acting president of Sascoc.