Sex pest allowed to stay as coach
Netball SA silent on trainer who seduced one player and tried the same with minor
A decision by Netball SA (NSA) to end the suspension of a coach who was accused of sexually abusing players has sparked an outcry among some of the sport’s officials.
Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA), which has launched an athletes against child abuse initiative, is also looking into the matter.
The coach was suspended in 2013 after three complaints were lodged against him, one of these involving a minor.
A psychologist’s report, seen by the Sunday Times, recounted the experiences of two of the players.
One, an orphan, moved into the coach’s house “with other girls” and his girlfriend. While she was staying there, the coach asked her to have sex with him, said the report.
“Although she entered into voluntary sex with him, she also didn’t want it to happen,” the psychologist wrote, adding that she had seen the coach as a father figure.
“She experienced his approach to have sex with him as a betrayal of that relationship. [She] experienced the incident as shameful and felt angry at him. She indicated that she thought that he took advantage of her.”
The second victim in the report, who was underage, was asked by the coach to visit him at his house, but she refused. “Although he never asked her directly to have sex with him, she recalled he mentioned it and she said ‘no’,” said the report.
The coach gave her pocket money and picked her up from school without parental consent. After she was selected for a provincial team, he phoned to tell her “she still owed” him.
He also allegedly asked the girl to lie to her coach by saying her mother had died in order to get a bursary, and that she would have to pay him back from that money.
The psychologist wrote: “It is of concern that some of the coach’s alleged behaviour involves having sex with a player, discussing sex with a minor, asking a player to lie to get money; picking a player [a minor] up from school without parental consent [and] creating an environment of fear.”
Sport minister Nathi Mthethwa was twice unable to answer written questions about the coach put to him in parliament by a DA MP last year. In May, he replied that the federation needed more time to retrieve the information “due to the lockdown”, and in November he said “efforts to get the responses from [NSA had] been unsuccessful”.
Two netball insiders told the Sunday Times that NSA president Cecilia Molokwane had commented during discussions about the coach’s reinstatement that customary law dictated it was acceptable for men to pay damages as reparation.
“There was a general discussion in which … Molokwane alluded to the fact that it is a cultural thing for black men to do what they want with women as long as there’s payment,” said one official.
The other said Molokwane had said the coach had paid the parents of a player he had made pregnant. This player was not one of the three complainants.
WMACA advocacy manager Luke Lamprecht said this wasn’t the only time a financial settlement had been suggested in a sexual abuse case. The father of an underaged victim in another sport is claiming the police investigating officer suggested he ask for a financial settlement from the accused, and used the figure of R100,000 as an example.
Carina Coetzee, who in 2015 successfully prosecuted former tennis star Bob Hewitt for rape and sexual assault, said paying money to resolve a sexual abuse case was a crime.
“No, you can’t,” she said. “To receive a reward, favour or compensation for the sexual offence of a child would be in contravention of section 17 of [the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act 32 of 2007].”
Lamprecht said too many people were obfuscating the delivery of justice. “There are too many gatekeepers ... stymying our system,” he said. “Then they are using our stymied system as a reason to not use the system. Our system may be extremely flawed, but we can make it work.”
Minutes from an NSA management committee meeting indicate Molokwane had asked for legal advice on the coach’s return and was told proper procedure had not been followed and “NSA has no foot to stand on”. “He can come back to netball, however there can be rules and regulations or conditions such as he is not allowed to work with girls under 18,” the minutes read.
A legal opinion on the matter, seen by the Sunday Times, said the coach should be banned for life from working with minors.
“For NSA not to institute such a ban and strictly monitor its compliance would be tantamount to the organisation accepting and condoning possibly the most serious breach of one of its most important policies,” said the opinion.
“Should [the coach] proceed to have sexual relations with another minor female who also falls pregnant, the mother of such child may have a claim for maintenance against NSA.”
The two NSA officials said they were not convinced the ban on the coach working with minors was being enforced.
“The system, I believe, at the end of the day has failed [the coach’s alleged victims],” said one, adding that an attempt to lodge a criminal case had failed.
A complaint had been made by phone, said the official, but police had insisted it be lodged in person.
Another official involved in the suspension of the coach said victims had declined to come forward.
Molokwane, who is suspended until May for nonpayment of membership fees, referred questions to NSA, which said it needed more time to respond.
The coach did not respond to questions from the Sunday Times.
The police did not respond to the Sunday Times query about the allegation that an officer suggested to the victim’s father to seek a financial settlement.