NEWS

Sascoc Distances Itself From Mbalula's Dubai Trip

Mbalula did not declare Dubai trip to Parliament.

09/10/2017 09:31 SAST | Updated 09/10/2017 09:50 SAST
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is distancing itself from the controversy around former sports minister Fikile Mbalula's trip to Dubai, which was reportedly paid for by a supplier to the SA Olympic team. Mbalula and his family travelled there late last year while he was still minister of sports.

The DA says the trip and who paid for it were not disclosed to the ethics committee in Parliament.

The trip, which Eyewitness News reported on on Monday, was allegedly partly or fully paid for by Sedgars Sports -- a sporting goods supplier for South African Olympic teams for more than 10 years –- reportedly costing almost R700,000.

Jessica Choga, spokesperson at Sascoc, said: "Unfortunately, you are going to have to ask Fikile Mbalula, he [was] the minister of sports, and Sascoc has nothing to do with it."

Mbalula's spokesman, Vuyo Mhaga, denied the claims to News24.

"It was a private trip. He basically paid for it," Mhaga said.

Mhaga said it has been claimed that Mbalula paid for the trip in February, which did not make sense.

''Why would he go on holiday in December and pay for it in February?"

Mhaga said he would issue a comprehensive statement later.

According to EWN, two payments were made to a Johannesburg travel agency from the bank account of an inactive company, Reimon Uniforms, around the time of the trip.

Despite many strong links between Reimon and Sedgars, Sedgars has denied making payments towards the trip.

EWN reported that it was not clear whether Mbalula declared the trip to Parliament, as required by its members' code of conduct.

Mbalula told EWN that his privacy was being invaded.

"Those who allege wrongdoing should equally furnish you with facts. Now this is more like a witch-hunt and you jump into it. This is really unfair and abusive... You are invading my privacy if you think I've transgressed executive or members code [sic] as you claim. My family trip is a confidential matter in terms of ethics code. So, once again, this is a private matter and there's no conflict of interest whatsoever. My rights are reserved," he reportedly said.

Tsepo Mhlongo, the DA's shadow minister of sports, said he would investigate the allegation against Mbalula. "I will be asking formal written questions to the minister [on Tuesday]."

According to Mhlongo, Mbalula did not declare the trip in ethics documentation in Parliament.

"There is a culture of misrepresentation by politicians. He must not run around, he must respond."

Corruption must be stopped, said Mhlongo.

Winston Rabotapi, the DA's previous sports spokesperson, said: "The whole debacle smacks of corruption. There is a Gupta link here possibly because when the Guptas are involved, everything happens in Dubai."

Vuyo Mhaga, police ministry spokesperson, wasn't available for comment on Monday morning.

Sedgars Sports did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.