ASA accused of ignoring damning report on Skhosana
AN accountability watchdog has accused Athletics SA (ASA) of using “a red herring” to shield its embattled president, Aleck Skhosana, from the fallout of a fraud case dating back to his days as KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) president.
Three separate investigations found two KZNA employees had stolen money between 2009 and 2011 using blank cheques, and that Skhosana was culpable by virtue of being one of the union’s two signatories.
The two culprits resigned before facing disciplinary action, and one has since died.
ASA’s board has said it can’t act against Skhosana until police complete their investigation into the fraud.
But the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa’s director, Paul Hoffman, also a senior counsel, rejected this.
“The police investigation is a red herring and a delaying tactic on the part of those who raise it,” said Hoffman.
“The president is not an accused person in any criminal proceedings of which I am aware, he is just guilty of such gross corporate mismanagement that he has disqualified himself from holding any position of trust.”
But it seems the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) has bought the ASA response.
When asked for an interview on this issue, a Sascoc official replied: “The matter is still under investigation [by the police] and we await the results.”
Meanwhile, the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) said on Friday it would launch its own probe into the fraud after conducting site visits and taking legal opinion.
“The NLC will conduct a forensic investigation on the grants,” the commission said in an e-mail. Skhosana won ASA’s 2014 presidential race by a landslide after his backers chose to ignore the fraud controversy; by that stage two of the investigations had been completed.
The second — ordered by the KZN treasury’s internal audit unit into R600 000 given by the provincial government to the union for a one-off race — was the more damning of the two.
That audit has never been released publicly, but the Sunday Times has obtained a copy.
Investigators unearthed fraudulent expenditure of R138 548.71 in relation to the National Youth Run in Durban in 2010, and found that attendance figures had been inflated by 1 444 participants to 4 333.
On Skhosana, they said he “falsely declared in the section 38 (1)(j) compliance certificate that effective, efficient and transparent financial management and internal control systems are in place for [KZNA] as per the PFMA [Public Finance Management Act]”.
KZNA, in fact, had “inadequate financial controls and financial policies and procedures were nonexistent”.
The report said further that Skhosana had failed to ensure all the supporting documentation was valid and correct before signing cheques.
“Being as he is no longer a member of the executive com- mittee of KZNA, the only action that can be taken is if he is further implicated as a result of the criminal investigation.”
The third report, commissioned by KZNA and which was completed last year, found Skhosana was unfit to hold office and recommended he be charged with gross negligence.
The ASA executive has questioned the motive behind this report and the timing of its release, and pointed out Skhosana wasn’t implicated in theft. But Hoffman isn’t convinced. “If the reports . . . are accurate to the extent that they allege that the current ASA president signed . . . blank cheques, then in my view he has been reckless and is personally liable to KZNA for all losses it has suffered as a result of his signature on cheques that were used for illegitimate purposes.”
Hoffman said he agreed that Skhosana was “not a fit and proper person to hold a position of trust either in ASA or elsewhere”.
“If the board has due regard for transparency and accountability under the law, it ought to take steps to terminate the presidency of its current president and preclude him from standing for office on the grounds of his ineligibility based upon the recklessness [or even gross negligence] with which he dealt with public money in the past.”
EMBATTLED: Athletics SA president Aleck Skhosana