The KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) board has taken a knock in its battle against Athletics South Africa (ASA), with the embattled provincial executive apparently being told it can no longer put up a fight as a group.
The KZNA board, suspended by ASA last week, had approached the South Gauteng High Court with an urgent application to have the decision overturned, claiming they had been unlawfully removed.
After attempting to postpone the case on Thursday, however, the suspended KZNA board members were allegedly informed by the judge that they could not appear as a suspended board if they returned to fight the matter in court.
They would instead need to file individual applications.
According to ASA chief executive Richard Stander, the suspended board members had also been told they needed to cover their own legal costs and could not use KZNA resources.
An independent administrator would be placed in control of the KZNA office. The provincial body would also be audited and an ‘IT specialist’ would be placed in the office.
Following an in-depth investigation, ASA would decide on how to proceed with the matter.
“ASA would like to assure staff and members of KZNA that there will not be any interruption in the executive of the mandate of the association,” the national federation said in a statement.
“We look forward to them working closely with the administrator during this interim period for the benefit of the athletes.”
Stander said the KZNA executive had repeatedly clashed with ASA in recent years, taking the federation to court for various reasons.
There were also concerns about the provincial body’s finances, with KZNA having controversially raised race levies by 50% in an alleged attempt to solve its problems.
KZNA had previously been audited on multiple occasions, with office staff having been accused of stealing money between 2009 and 2011.
While current ASA president Aleck Skhosana was the president of KZNA at the time – a position now held by former ASA interim administrator Sello Mokoena – a subsequent ASA internal investigation cleared Skhosana after he had allegedly signed blank cheques used by staff to commit fraud.
While the ASA top brass had been accused of digging up old grudges in its suspension of the KZNA board, with Mokoena having previously been involved in public tussles with ASA and Skhosana, Stander insisted the national federation was ensuring one of its largest members had its house in order.
“We’ve suspended the board pending an investigation. We’re not on a witch hunt,” Stander said.
“We need clarity on why the board is acting the way it is.”