Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Rugby union boss among top officials summoned to the EP Kings’ liquidation hearing

The web of mismanagement that led to the liquidation of the EP Kings, the commercial arm of the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU), will be revealed when high-profile rugby figures testify at a confidential hearing next month.

Liquidators are serving summonses on Jurie Roux, the chief executive of the South African Rugby Union (Saru), and EP Kings’s franchise head Cheeky Watson.

The high court in Port Elizabeth has granted an application for a liquidation hearing to be held at the city’s magistrate’s court.

Saru board member Monde Tabata, the administrator for the EP Kings, and the former head of the EPRU, Charl Crous, will also appear at the hearing.

“The interrogation process empowers liquidators to scrutinise the club and its partners regarding the business affairs of EP Rugby over the last couple of years,” one of the liquidators said this week.

Port Elizabeth attorney Craig Jessop, who is representing a group of 18 players at the hearing, said he hopes to recover “the outstanding salaries and [monies] promised to them for damages”.

In July and August last year, EP Kings failed to pay players’ salaries and debts totalling R18-million. At the beginning of this year, the EPRU players’ union, My Players, successfully applied for the provisional liquidation of the EP Kings. The liquidation was finalised last month when Watson failed to secure a R200-million sponsor as part of a business rescue plan.

Now liquidators will look into the franchise’s financial decline over the past three years – which has left it with slightly less than R70 000 in assets – under Watson’s stewardship. They will also examine what role Roux and others played in managing the franchise’s finances. The hearing will be confidential because of the sensitive financial information likely to be disclosed.

Watson’s woes have been compounded by the union’s lower league clubs passing another motion of no confidence in him. It’s the fourth time they have done so but the controversial rugby boss has remained at the helm.

Watson said: “[It seems] to have been resolved but it’s all in the hands of the administrator.”

While liquidators finalise questions they plan to pose at the hearing, it’s understood that Roux and Crous are among the top rugby bosses who will reveal how money was managed after the EP Kings’ relegation from Super Rugby in 2014, and explain why the union could not pay its players.

“We’re playing our cards close to our chest … The people who are subpoenaed all played a crucial role in the management of finances and the alleged mismanagement, so they have questions to answer,” said another source involved in the liquidation.

EP King’s fate will be decided at the hearing, which has significant implications for Saru. The national rugby union is committed to competing against New Zealand and Australia for a second season of Super 18 Rugby, which means Saru is obliged to field another South African team. That is meant to be the Southern Kings, the EPRU’s Super Rugby franchise. If Saru is unable to sort out the EP Kings’s finances or find a sponsor, it will have to underwrite the Eastern Cape side, at a huge cost.

The EP Kings are currently competing in the Currie Cup without an official sponsor and under the administration of Saru, which has kept it afloat since December. But, with a R20-million bail-out deal – which was approved by the former ANC metropolitan council – under threat, the team may have to drop out. Shortly after taking office, Nelson Mandela Bay metro mayor Athol Trollip initiated a review of the deal. The EP Kings’ participation in the Currie Cup hinged on it.

Nelson Mandela Bay spokesperson Kupido Baron said: “A decision was made to [release a R6-million deposit] because it came from a previous council meeting. But the mayor said, ‘let the other payment be deferred’, until he is satisfied with the review.”

Known as the home of black rugby, the Eastern Cape has three teams: Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth, Border Bulldogs in East London and the Country District team, which operates in the province’s rural areas.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

‘W Cape, fix unplaced pupils crisis’

Civil rights organisations want the department to find a permanent solution to the problem

Shanduka shade over Free State education

Audit firm PwC said R500-million irregular expenditure incurred by the Free State education department is related to an unsolicited bid by the Kagiso Shanduka Trust to improve schools

More top stories

Even religion has limits on its rights

The constitution does protect faith — but not beyond what is reasonable

Covid kills a decade of employment growth in SA

The self-employed were nearly three times less likely to work during the hard lockdown, economists found

Ramaphosa faction dividing Limpopo — NEC hears

In a leaked recording during Saturday’s ANC national executive committee meeting, Mathabatha said he has observed ‘comrades who run around purporting to be the defenders of our president’.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×