Hoy Park de­fies court and holds con­fer­ence

CityPress - - Soccer Special - PADDY HARPER Paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

The eThek­wini re­gion of the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa), ruled by the rene­gade “Hoy Park” group­ing, yes­ter­day de­fied a high court or­der as well as foot­ball’s na­tional au­thor­ity, and went ahead and held a re­gional elec­tive con­fer­ence – risk­ing both ar­rest and po­ten­tial jail time in the process.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing, the fac­tion – based at the Hoy Park foot­ball fa­cil­ity in Dur­ban and led by Al­pha Mchunu, who has been re­gional pres­i­dent for 14 years – went ahead with the congress.

This was de­spite be­ing told by Safa and the court to halt the process un­til a dis­pute over an ar­bi­tra­tion or­der giv­ing them per­mis­sion to do so was re­solved. Mchunu re­tained his pres­i­dency. The move has sparked an an­gry re­ac­tion from the foot­ball gov­ern­ing body’s head of­fice, with vi­cepres­i­dent for mem­ber­ship Lu­cas Nh­lapo, who has been bat­tling to bring or­der to the re­gion since 2014, say­ing that Mchunu’s fac­tion “will end up get­ting them­selves ar­rested for de­fy­ing a le­git­i­mate or­der of the court”.

“They can’t do this. It’s il­le­gal and against the Safa statutes. A court has ruled and we are all ex­pected to re­spect that rul­ing. They are only go­ing ahead with a meet­ing with those lo­cal foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tions we have not man­aged to no­tify,” said Nh­lapo.

“The ma­jor­ity of the lo­cal foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tions have been briefed and will not be at­tend­ing,” Nh­lapo said.

The ugly mess in Safa eThek­wini came to a head in Au­gust 2014, when Mchunu’s fac­tion went ahead with a rogue elec­tive congress in­volv­ing par­al­lel lo­cal foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tions that they had set up in de­fi­ance of a Safa rul­ing.

They were then stripped of their of­fice and a new congress was held, with the elec­tions be­ing won by a group­ing aligned to the Foot­ball Trans­for­ma­tion Fo­rum, oust­ing Mchunu’s group­ing and elect­ing KwaMashu foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tor Mazwi Mkhize as pres­i­dent.

How­ever, Mchunu’s group went to court to force Safa to ap­point an ar­bi­tra­tor to re­solve the dis­pute. The court ruled that the Mchunu group­ing should over­see a new elec­tion process by yes­ter­day. How­ever, on Thurs­day, the Mkhize fac­tion se­cured an in­terim in­ter­dict in the Dur­ban High Court stop­ping the con­fer­ence un­til the dis­pute was re­solved.

Yes­ter­day, Hoy Park was packed with del­e­gates from lo­cal foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tions aligned to the Mchunu group – which have to re­spond to the in­ter­dict by Jan­uary 24.

The me­dia were asked to leave the venue for the elec­tion process. A small con­tin­gent of Metro Po­lice were on site, but there was no sign of any pres­ence of SA Po­lice Ser­vice mem­bers sent to en­force the or­der.

The Mchunu fac­tion’s spokesper­son, Eric Smith, told City Press ahead of the vot­ing that the con­fer­ence would go ahead and that they had not been served with any in­ter­dict.

“We are go­ing ahead as sched­uled and au­tho­rised by the ar­bi­tra­tor’s award,” Smith said.

Safa na­tional spokesper­son Dominic Chimhavi said that they would wait for the court to take ac­tion over the unau­tho­rised elec­tion and con­fer­ence.

“We should re­spect our con­sti­tu­tion and the de­ci­sion that the court has made. We re­ceived the in­ter­dict and we are not go­ing to pro­ceed with any con­fer­ence, as we re­spect the rule of law. In terms of what we do next, we will be guided by the courts,” he said.

PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES / SUN­DAY TIMES

LONG SER­VICE Al­pha Mchunu, who heads up Hoy Park

PHOTO: SABELO MNGOMA / BACK­PAGEPIX

HEADSTRONG Eric Smith of Hoy Park

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