Basketball SA chiefs accused of embezzlement

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) will this weekend probe allegations of financial mismanagement at Basketball South Africa (BSA).

The probe follows a litany of complaints by Gauteng basketball officials, who have accused the national federation’s president, Vusi Mgobhozi, and treasurer Eric Nkosi of turning BSA into their personal bank account.

Allegations against Mgobhozi and Nkosi include their failure to conduct audits on 2006/07 financial statements and appointing service providers without the knowledge of other executives.

This week Mgobhozi, who is a Sascoc board member, admitted to the Mail & Guardian that he had cashed federation cheques but said he had to.

“I had to cash these cheques to pay the service providers during an event. All of them refused to be paid in cheques so I would go to the bank, get the money, put it in a bag and after the event they would stand in a queue and I would give them their money. And there wouldn’t be any money left behind,” he said.

The M&G has seen cheques for R100 00, R50 000 and R100 000 that Mgobhozi signed and cashed on November 29 2006 and February 8 and 9 2007, respectively.

Nkosi, who has denied ever signing a cheque for himself, also has his signature on a cheque of R50 000 cashed on June 23 2007.
It is one of many cheques bearing his name.

Mgobhozi said: “The service providers would be catering companies, volunteers and transport services. Sometimes I would make them queue at the bank and give everything to them when I was done.”

The M&G has seen proof of payment to service providers such as Vuka Tours and Transfers, a Bloemfontein company, which was on one occasion paid R225 000.

A federation official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “How can someone sign a cheque for themselves? In October 2006 during our AGM we agreed that Nkosi should be the only one signing cheques but that wasn’t implemented because people knew what their motives were.

“Things just don’t add up and we have kept quiet for too long about this thing. Most of the cheques that were signed by the two are not filed and we don’t where the money went. And as for Mgobhozi, he cannot claim that he used the money he cashed [for] hiring cars, [on a] cellphone or to purchase flight tickets because he has a company credit card which he can use to do all these things,” said the official.

As a result of the alleged financial mismanagement, the National Lottery and the Department of Sport and Recreation have halted their funding to BSA.

“An audit on all our financial statements for 2006/07 was supposed to be [completed] by March 31 but nothing has been done up until now. So it has been two years without an audit and we currently don’t have any funds for 2007/08.

“The National Lottery used to fund us with anything between R3-million and R4-million and we used to get about R400 000 from the Department of Sport and Recreation. Funding from [the] sports [department] used to vary depending on how much they were left with after allocating to other federations and BSA would apply for extra funding,” said the official.

Moss Mashishi, president of Sascoc, told the M&G that all the allegations would be tabled during the meeting on Saturday. He said the allegations against the BSA leadership had only recently come to the confederation’s attention.

“We never had any formal complaint before March 13, when Tsepo Nyewe of Gauteng Basketball Association wrote a letter to Sascoc requesting us to intervene in calling a special general meeting ... so they could raise the issues [financial mismanagement] which are reported in the media.

“The meeting will be a perfect platform to raise burning issues within BSA and not in the media. Sascoc cannot go around policing people in what they do within their federations—we assist only when there is a crisis that members of that federation cannot deal with. And this cannot have an impact at all [on] Sascoc as it is a private matter,” said Mashishi.

The basketball official said: “The situation at BSA is very bad. A forensic audit must be conducted and heads should roll ... Our basketball has hit rock bottom.”

The official pointed to the South African under-18 team’s failure to go to the African Youth Championships zonal qualifiers in Zimbabwe at the beginning of April as further proof of poor leadership.

Mgobhozi responded: “Yes, this is bad for our sport but there was nothing I could do because we didn’t have any funds.”

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