There were serious concerns over the decision by the Mpumalanga Rugby Union to include Mr Gert van Schalkwyk in their Pumas team. Mr van Schalkwyk had been found guilty of murder [as part of the Waterkloof Four who killed a homeless man] but was out on bail pending an appeal. While the Rugby Union took the opinion that he was a free man until all channels of appeal were exhausted, the Committee felt that he should be regarded as guilty after two courts had already reached this conclusion. Despite this technicality, Members felt that it was insensitive to use this player given his personal circumstances. Members requested that the matter be referred to the South African Rugby Union for a decision based on that body’s constitution, while a proposal was also accepted that a letter be written to the Minister to invoke the provisions of the National Sports and Recreation Amendment Act, as they felt that the sport of rugby was being brought into disrepute.
An incident was discussed where the Member of the Executive Council of Mpumalanga responsible for sport had been denied access to the President’s Suite at the stadium used by the Pumas. This was during a soccer match. The President of the Union explained that the suite was private property and had been constructed at the
In both cases, Members felt that the members of the Mpumalanga Rugby Union were arrogant and demonstrated racist attitudes.
Due to time constraints, the other items on the agenda were not discussed. However, the
The Chairperson said that Parliament was the recourse for the downtrodden. It was the means of defence for the people, and anyone was welcome to call on Parliament. It was the policy of Parliament that it would not pay for the costs professional organisations but would pay for those of amateur organisations and people who were not subsidised by government. Letters had been sent to the Mpumalanga Pumas Union to them. If they continued not to respond, then a summons would have been issued. If they failed to respond to that, then they would be in contempt of Parliament.
He said that all national federations had to come to Parliament to report on their activities at the end of the financial year. In terms of the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Act, bodies could be called to Parliament to explain any matter. The Committee wished to engage with the Pumas on the development of rugby in their area. However, government would not negotiate on transformation, and would only ask the federation how far it had progressed in this respect. The Committee would decide if the level of transformation achieved was acceptable. There were still lily-white teams.
The Chairperson said that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) had presented its Transformation Charter. The Committee wanted to know what progress had been made.
He said that the next matter of concern was the selection of Mr Gert van Schalkwyk in the Pumas team. Mr van Schalkwyk was a convicted criminal and had shown no remorse for his deeds. It was blatant arrogance that the Pumas continued to select this player while his appeal was pending.
The Chairperson said that the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) in
Mr C Frolick (ANC) said that in a Sunday national newspaper an open letter to Mr Komphela had been published. This contained serious allegations and assumptions. It would be irresponsible of the Committee not to respond to this as matters went beyond what had been said in the letter. Certain journalists were acting as a conduit in the destabilisation of federations. Action was needed from the Minister, and he proposed that a letter be sent to Minister of Sport and Recreation, who was the custodian of sport in the country. The matter had to be taken further.
Mr D Dikgacwi (ANC) supported this proposal.
The Chairperson said that there had been discussions between the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and Athletics South Africa. A doctor from
Mr Dikgacwi proposed that the sequence of the agenda should be changed, and that the last two points should be discussed first.
Mr Hein Mentz (President, Mpumalanga Rugby Union (MRU)) asked for clarity on the agenda points in question.
The Chairperson said that these were the issues surrounding Mr van Schalkwyk and the MEC.
Mr Mentz was not aware of the issue with the MEC, but had nothing to hide. He would speak off the cuff.
The Chairperson asked Mr Mentz if he would be prepared to take an oath.
Concerns surrounding selection of Mr Gert van Schalkwyk
Mr Mentz said that he had no problem in taking an oath. On the issue of Mr van Schalkwyk, he said that it was the standpoint of the MRU that it respected the law and every man’s right to freedom. A person was considered innocent until proven guilty in the highest court. He had been found guilty in a magistrate’s court, but had successfully applied for leave to appeal. He was therefore innocent in terms of the law. The MRU had been aware of the consequences when selecting Mr van Schalkwyk.
He said that the MRU had studied the Constitution. Section 47 referred to Members of the National Assembly, especially Section 47(1)e. Every citizen who was qualified to vote may become a member of the National Assembly, unless he or she had been sentenced to a jail term in excess of twelve months without the option of a fine. This status was only considered once all appeal avenues had been explored. It followed that Mr van Schalkwyk could therefore be appointed as a Member of Parliament (MP), even to the level of being Deputy President. However, he was now being told he could not play rugby.
Mr Mentz said that the law had to be allowed to take its course. Mr van Schalkwyk was a free man until the highest judge found him guilty. He referred to the case of
Mr Frolick said that was a legalistic argument. He asked if the MRU had interacted with SARU on this matter. Mr van Schalkwyk might find himself playing against people with strong views about his crime. He asked who Mr Mentz had contacted at SARU. The argument about Mr van Schalkwyk being able to be appointed as a politician was far-fetched, and was a silly comment.
Gen B Holomisa (UDM) asked if this would be the case should Mr van Schalkwyk join the ANC.
The Chairperson resented the insinuation that a criminal could be a Member of Parliament.
Mr T Louw (ANC) agreed with Mr Mentz on the legal issues, but the matter went beyond that. The approach of the MRU was arrogant. The MRU represented the province, and this included all residents. It was not a white union, and could not ever be one. He understood the concerns of Mr Mentz whether Mr van Schalkwyk was guilty or not, and said this was a very emotional issue. The MRU should be sensitive. As the President of the MRU, Mr Mentz was sending a message to the rest of the country. The people were stretching a hand of reconciliation to the white community. People had died for democracy, which gave the right of free expression. This was now being used in an insensitive manner.
He said that Members understood the law. They were not stupid, and were the law makers. They expected to see the MRU displaying some remorse on behalf of Mr van Schalkwyk. He was not surprised. The Vice President of the MRU was the principal of a school which had refused to admit black children. He did not want to go the
Mr R Reid (ANC) said that they were clearly looking at a pre-1994 situation. It was no longer the era of PW Botha and John Vorster. The country now had a culture of human rights. Mr Mentz was overlooking this, and was hiding behind a legal approach to the matter. Any black person would be offended by facing Mr van Schalkwyk on the field. His acts were a definite obstacle to transformation. It was an attempt to restore the benefits of apartheid. That era had gone, and would never again be tolerated. Mr Mentz had to understand that
The Chairperson asked Mr Mentz if he had gone to see the family of Mr van Schalkwyk’s victim.
Mr Dikgacwi asked Mr Mentz if he, as President, had had a one-to-one discussion with Mr van Schalkwyk. It was a black mark on the MRU, and he wondered what Mr van Schalkwyk’s response had been. Mr Mentz was a parent, a federation president and the leader of the MRU. In soccer the leaders spoke out, and punished the players for misbehaviour. Mr van Schalkwyk was white, and his victim was black; therefore Mr Mentz did not care as it was one less vote for the ANC. There was not a single white man on the Committee. Mr Mentz was making a big mistake.
Gen Holomisa asked what actions had been taken by SARU, the Department of Sport and Recreation (SRSA) and the Human Rights Commission (HRC). He asked what the legal status was of a person awaiting appeal. He should enjoy some Constitutional rights.
The Chairperson asked if Mr Mentz had spoken to the family of the victim when the decision had been taken to select Mr van Schalkwyk. There must have been reasons for his selection.
Mr Jabu Mahlangu (MEC, Culture, Sport and Recreation,
Mr Louw raised a point of order. The contention was that Mr van Schalkwyk was innocent until proven guilty, and was thus a free man who could even be elected as an MP. In essence, Mr Mentz had lied because the case had already been ruled on by two courts so he questioned the contention that Mr van Schalkwyk could still be considered innocent.
The Chairperson said that he would never defend Mr Mentz’s point of view. He wanted to know if it was correct. His understanding was that from the point of a person’s arrest he or she was regarded as innocent until being found guilty in the first court. That person was then presumed guilty until such time as an appeal was successful.
Gen Holomisa asked what would happen if Mr van Schalkwyk was regarded as guilty but was subsequently acquitted on appeal. In the meantime, he would have been prejudiced. If he got the
Mr Frolick said that the Committee must proceed with the agenda. There was a need to find out what the mindset of the MRU was.
The Chairperson said that members were saying that there was a human factor. The life of a black person was regarded as being cheap. Parliament could not get involved in a legal debate. Everybody knew that Mr van Schalkwyk had been found guilty, but the Committee would respect the decision of the
Gen Holomisa said that the MEC should be allowed to continue.
The MEC said that after the incident where he had been refused entry to the Presidential Suite, he had met with Mr Mentz. A function of sport was to achieve social cohesion, nation building and pride, but this act flew in the face of this notion. A player guilty of unacceptable behaviour, such as alcohol abuse, was normally removed from the team. There was a certain cultural standard applied. A lower court had convicted Mr van Schalkwyk of murder, and a higher court, despite granting him leave to appeal, had upheld the decision. It had also added impediments such as confiscating his passport. There was a need for sensitivity. The Pumas were the property of the province. There was a moral question to his selection. The issued had been raised frankly. He would not dictate to the MRU, but had expressed his opinion. He would have problems if this were a collective decision of the MRU.
Gen Holomisa repeated his question as to the involvement of SARU and SRSA.
Mr Mentz said that he had liaised with the SARU portfolio manager for legal matters, Mr Christo Ferreira. He had produced a document based on the “innocent until proven guilty” principle. He was no longer practicing politics [former Freedom Plus Member of Parliament]. That was in his past. He was now managing sport. There was a need for sensitivity and remorse. He said that it was wrong to say that black children had been excluded from the
Mr Mentz said that human rights were guaranteed for all in the Constitution. This included the rights of offenders. The human rights of all involved in the matter had to be respected.
The Chairperson asked how the human rights of the deceased person had been respected.
Mr Mentz said that he would get there. When there was an issue of white on black, matters became oversensitive. He did have a private discussion with Mr van Schalkwyk. It was his duty as a leader. He had opened Mr van Schalkwyk’s mind. He had still been a child of sixteen at the time of the murder. He was remorseful and would like to have the chance to turn the clock back. He had also met with his mother.
He said that he could not answer for SRSA. There had been no direct engagement with the MRU. He had requested a meeting with the MEC, as he felt it was necessary. He had set forth an agenda. Mr van Schalkwyk was not on the agenda, but the MEC had added the issue. He had gladly discussed the issue with the MEC.
Mr Mentz said that the deceased man was an unidentified man, and he had therefore not been able to speak to the family. He referred to a pronouncement from the SAHRC on the Makhaya Ntini case. Mr Jody Kollapen of SAHRC had said at the time that the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” had to be upheld even if there were slim grounds to believe that there was a chance of acquittal.
The Chairperson said that that statement had been released before Mr Ntini’s first court case. He asked what the SAHRC had to say on this issue.
Mr Mentz was unaware of any SAHRC statement on the van Schalkwyk issue. He said that the quote which he had read out had been made after Mr Ntini’s conviction. He was interested in why the Committee felt that the Ntini case was not relevant.
Gen Holomisa wanted to know if there was any statement from the SAHRC.
Mr Mentz said that in the van Schalkwyk matter, the law must be respected and allowed to run its course. He had addressed the issue with the MEC. Mr van Schalkwyk had been part of the
The Chairperson agreed that Mr Mentz’s political touch was a bit rusty. The matter could not be abandoned, as it had been raised under Mr Mentz’s leadership and been brought into the public domain.
Mr Mentz reiterated that he had nothing to hide. He had not brought Mr van Schalkwyk into the team, but was now handling the issue.
The Chairperson wanted the record set straight on the Ermelo school issue.
The MEC said that the Chairperson was correct. The school had been a problem. The Chairperson was correct to say that it was a race problem. The School Governing Board had refused to admit black children on the basis of language. It was an Afrikaans medium school and did not cater for English speaking children. The Department had intervened. The Principal had taken the matter to court, unsuccessfully, and had been disciplined. The issue had attracted much bad publicity. A new principal had been appointed and the situation was now much better.
Mr Frolick asked if the principal was still involved with the Pumas or with school rugby in the region. He had heard that he had been selected to become the CEO of the MRU.
Mr Louw said that it did not matter when Mr van Schalkwyk had first been selected for
Mr Louw said that the Committee had its facts right about the Ermelo school. The principal had sneaked out of
Mr Reid said that he had listened to the debate. It was clear to him that Mr Mentz was trying to defend the indefensible. It was the result of his mindset. He could not come to grips with the fact that white people were no longer in control of the country. He was using everything at his disposal to stop transformation. Mr van Schalkwyk was controversial. He should be suspended until his appeal had been decided.
Mr J Masango (DA) confirmed that the problem with the school was a language one. English was not a black language. The school’s medium was only Afrikaans. The main issue here was that someone had lost his life. It was a question of whether the player should be disciplined now or whether the authorities should wait for the appeal court decision. If there was a cloud over the player’s head, then he should be suspended.
Mr Louw wanted to clear up a misunderstanding. The Committee was not finding Mr van Schalkwyk guilty or not.
The Chairperson said that the court would decide that matter but the human issues had to be considered.
Mr B Solo (ANC) knew why the human issue was the core of the problem. It was a question of remorse. It was a symbolic issue. Sport had to work towards social cohesion. Such an incident showed the sensitivity of the matter. He said that the South African Broadcasting Corporation had a good television programme which was used to trace families, and perhaps this could be used to determine the identity of the victim. A change of mindset was needed. He said that he was a man of God, and there were many community-based churches in the area. These could perhaps be used to find the deceased’s family.
The Chairperson said that the family should be traced. The Zionist Christian Church would pray for them.
Gen Holomisa foresaw future problems. He was concerned that there was no response from the provincial or national Departments, nor from SARU. Whatever the legal opinions expressed, there would be an open argument. The lack of a report was a problem. SRSA was the eyes and ears of the Committee but it had no executive authority.
Mr Frolick said that it was significant that SARU was silent on the matter. He had only heard now about the letter from Mr Ferreira. The issue had come into the public domain just before the recent SARU elections, and might have been a ploy to gain support. The Committee needed to see a copy of the legal opinion. If it was wrong, then SARU was as guilty as the MRU. The reason for the establishment of the Vodacom Cup was to provide a platform for black, disadvantaged players. Now there was a convicted murderer playing in the competition. He wondered if the fact that Mr van Schalkwyk’s father was the coach of the team had anything to do with his selection.
The Chairperson said that statements were needed from SARU, the SAHRC and SRSA. The Amendment Act was a recourse. By condoning the actions of the MRU, the Committee could be seen as agreeing with murder. SRSA would have to pick up the matter. The Department had been advised.
The Committee’s legal advisor said it would take some time for her to study the relevant case law. In terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, the right to appeal did not overturn a conviction and sentence.
Mr Mentz said that the issues at
The Chairperson reminded Mr Mentz that in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, Mr van
Schalkwyk had been found guilty and this would remain so unless decided otherwise on appeal.
Mr Mentz disagreed with this opinion but did not wish to take it further at that stage.
The Chairperson had the source document, namely the Act, at hand. He asked where Mr Mentz’s backing was.
Mr Mentz preferred not to respond. He had heard what the legal advisor had said, but reminded the Committee that she had admitted she had not had the time to study the case.
The Chairperson said that the legal advisor knew the law, but had not had time to undertake a case study.
Gen Holomisa said that a player should be suspended if he was guilty of serious misconduct.
The Chairperson said that he had been in touch with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SARU. The matter should be addressed by the SARU constitution.
Mr Frolick remarked that SARU was still quiet on the issue.
Mr Louw said that the Committee would never get anything from Mr Mentz. His mind was made up. The van Schalkwyk issue must be referred to SARU to deal with in accordance with their constitution. The Members were not lawyers. The local MEC and Department should also be involved.
Mr Frolick said that, in reference to the Amendment Act, the matter was fringing on bringing the sport into disrepute. SARU’s lack of action was making it an accomplice. The Committee should send a letter to the Minister to invoke the provisions of the Act.
Mr Masango said that the Department had to do something. SASCOC should intervene before the case was referred to the Minister.
Mr Frolick countered that the Minister had the final say, and did not have to rely on intervention by SASCOC. Mr Masango should not confuse the rest of the Committee by rewriting the Amendment Act.
The Chairperson had heard what the Members had said. As the leader of the federation, Mr Mentz should bring dignity to the situation. He should extend a word of humility. His actions were saying that the life of a person, particularly a black person, was of little value. His attitude was that black people could be shot like monkeys. Black life was cheap. A few lunatics were at work. The Pumas had embraced Mr van Schalkwyk’s actions rather than condemning them. He had read an opinion that the van Schalkwyk issue was drawing attention to the Pumas. This was not just a thumb-suck opinion. He was flabbergasted.
Mr Frolick reminded the Chairperson that he had made a proposal about writing a letter to the Minister.
The Chairperson noted that the proposal was seconded by the UDM.
Exclusion of MEC from President’s Suite
Mr Komphela said that there had been a report in the same newspaper about the MEC being turned away from a game. The ugly head of racism was rearing.
Gen Holomisa asked if there had been a complaint.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had taken this as a matter for discussion because of the embarrassment which had resulted. It had come from the ANC study group.
Gen Holomisa remarked that the Committee was not owned by the ANC.
MEC Mahlangu said that it had been an embarrassing issue. He was in the habit of attending major rugby matches played by the Pumas and Black Aces soccer matches. His party had been blocked on their arrival and denied the use of the President’s Suite for a particular match. They were told that the suite was only for use by Pumas officials. Members of the mayoral committee had been with him, which was doubly embarrassing as the stadium was the property of the municipality. They had been told that this was on Mr Mentz’s instructions.
He said that there had never been such an incident before. He had called Mr Mentz to explain, but felt that this was utter racism. He knew what Mr Mentz’s attitude towards Black Aces was. The MEC had threatened to deny the use of the stadium to the MRU. He had instructed the municipality to review the lease agreement. At present the stadium was leased to the MRU for a sum of approximately R1 000 per annum. The MRU sublet the stadium to Black Aces, who paid considerably more. The stadium was not well maintained. He noted that Mr Mentz had been a member of the political party, Freedom Front Plus. The facility had subsequently been opened to the public. The latest incident was a very negative development. The use of public property should be in the interests of all the citizens. This situation could not be allowed to continue.
Mr Louw asked if the facility had been opened to the public.
The MEC said that he was a guest of Black Aces for this match.
The Chairperson asked about the nature of the relationship between the MEC and the Pumas’ President.
MEC Mahlangu said that he had engaged personally with Mr Mentz. There had been a meeting with the Pumas and the municipality.
Mr Solo asked about the use of the stadium and its facilities. People were denied the use of the facilities. There was a tendency of previous users to move away. The viability of the stadium was being undermined.
The MEC said that the contract was biased towards the tenant. The Municipality took a weak stance. It had to ensure that the upkeep was up to scratch. This tendency was happening throughout the province, and he suspected throughout the country as well. The province would have to inject funds to rebuild the facilities.
The Chairperson agreed that this was a nationwide trend. Bloemfontein Celtic were charged R50 000 each time they staged a match at
Mr Mentz said that the MEC had not been barred. The decision had not been taken after his election to the MRU. Since October 2007, the MRU had extended a hand of friendship to the soccer club, as they suffered from a lack of facilities. When they had started negotiating with the club, they had agreed on a monthly rental of R10 000. Although the club was not well placed on the log at the time, they were not struggling financially. In the interim period, the rental had been negotiated down to R4 000. However, no money had actually been paid by the club yet.
Mr Mentz said that the President’s Suite had been built by the MRU. Other suites had also been constructed by various companies. These were understood to be private areas. The suite was excluded from the stadium. It had been built without the assistance of the town council. MRU had allowed the soccer club to use the suite as a gesture of goodwill. One of the directors of the club was a member of the MRU council.
Mr Mentz continued that there had been some trouble with the use of the suite by the soccer club. After the third incident, the MRU had decided that they would make the suite unavailable to Black Aces. The troubles amounted to plain hooliganism, and could not be tolerated. It was not a question of racism. There was a question of how to treat people. The troubles had included the theft of irreplaceable memorabilia such as signed rugby jerseys. He had spoken with the MEC. There had been a meeting with the soccer club, and they had apologised. A new dispensation would be followed. He said that if the logic that the suite was part of the stadium and was therefore public property, then all the private suites should be open to the public. He had no personal problem with the MEC, but did have a problem with Black Aces.
The Chairperson said that history revealed that these matters had been present before Mr Mentz’s presidency. He returned to the issue of the people urinating on the caretaker’s house. This would never have happened if it was a white person’s house. He condemned the vandalism. However, as soon as the suite became part of the stadium it ceased to be private property. He would not keep quiet. Someone like the MEC was the alpha and omega of sport in the province. This pattern of racial insult had been prevalent for years.
The MEC said there had been a discussion with MRU, but there was no agreement. If the facility was to be used by the black club but the use of the President’s Suite was denied, then it was an insinuation that the MEC and his guests were a bunch of thieves. An inventory could be taken of liquor and other consumables, and these could be paid for. He had asked Mr Mentz if he had reported the theft to the police, and this had not been done. It was purely racism. He had given an instruction that all facilities must be made available to the public.
Mr Dikgacwi said that there was an attitude problem. If people were not treated like human beings, then one must expect inhuman behaviour. He asked who owned the land on which the stadium stood. The problem with Black Aces was one of money. They were being overcharged and the MRU was sucking blood.
Mr Solo said it was a question of dignity. The message should be clear that the matter was not being taken lightly. He was not convinced by Mr Mentz’s explanations. These tendencies would continue, and some form of rapprochement was needed. It would remain a problem if the MRU continued to deprive the soccer club of the use of the facility. The problem lay in the MRU organisation.
Mr Mentz replied that it was a very interesting debate. The concept of human dignity was precious to him. He should not be condemned. He was glad Mr Solo did not preach a long sermon on this issue. The issue of the rental was not a simple one. He had no problem with the MEC, and he hoped Mr Mahlangu would realise why the MRU had taken these actions in time.
The Chairperson said that the first two items on the original agenda were based on a report from SARU. The Committee would give the MEC a chance to interact with the Pumas management on the Transformation Charter. In terms of the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Act, the federation must outline its progress in terms of transformation. If funds were being correctly invested in development, then it would be possible to claim tax relief.
Mr Komphela said that a plan was needed which was not necessarily a continuation of the current situation. Facilities were the biggest challenge. He could show how many facilities had been built by government and compare these to the facilities created by SARU and the Premier Soccer League. The South African Football Association could not be the colossal animal that it tried to be. A handout of R7 million had been given, but there was no legacy from this. The same situation existed in the professional wing. Government, however, had spent R50 billion on road, airport and stadium infrastructure for the 2010 World Cup. People said that government was not coming to the party, but this figure proved that they were.
Mr Arrie Myburg (CEO, MRU) said that MRU had provided a written presentation on the status of transformation within the province. Due to flight bookings they did not have time available to make a verbal presentation that day. There was a shortage of funds. The provincial government had already accepted the plan. This was thanks to the work of the MEC’s office.
The Chairperson said there must be an intended outcome, especially for black people.
Mr Frolick said that the Committee would interrogate the plan. It was not just a question of throwing money at it. Transformation had to be internalised. He looked at the current situation with team management. With the exception of the Under 18 and Under 13 teams, all the management members were white. The Committee would look into these matters. They would also interrogate this process, and ensure that real transformation took place.
The Chairperson said that there also had to be transformation in the controlling bodies. Appointments had to be substantive, not tokens. Government would never abandon this imperative.
Mr Myburg pointed out that of the MRU’s twelve staff members, eight were black and four white.
Mr Frolick noted this, but wondered what their jobs were.
The meeting was adjourned.
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