Not so long ago I mentioned elsewhere that Bafana Bafana had lost against Sierra Leona on 8 October 2011 because the players had failed to “score goals because they relied on other teams’ loss which would have given them a great advantage into qualifying to the next round of the tournament”. And little did we know there was more to its loss.
Minutes after learning that the team had not qualified, with coach Pitso Mosimane saying had he known the team had to score goals he would have made sure that it did – the South African Football Association (SAFA) complained, saying the rule used to disqualify the team was unfair and that it had long been “universally recognised” that the “team finishing top of the log at the end of the competition is automatically determined at the end of 90 minutes play, and that the second place is determined by the other rules”. It has since appealed against the disqualification of the national team, claiming the rule was “ambiguous” and therefore had to be challenged.
Because of its representatives in CAF, SAFA is expected to have known about the rule. And so is Mosimane who has admitted to having read the rules before the game. Therefore both SAFA and Mosimane are expected to take full responsibility for the embarrassment they had caused the country and like many would say: “ignorance of the law is not an excuse. While there are those who are calling for Mosimane to be fired and SAFA disbanded, there are those who are saying they should be given a break.
Mark Gleeson wrote on Sunday on News24.com that the “failure to read the rule book” had led to the national team “being eliminated” and that has since “effectively undone all the work and investment that has gone into the team over the last years”. He insisted that both Mosimane and Nematandani should go because “it would be dishonourable [for them] to stay after such a blunder” and that the weekend performance of the national team had been “eroded by the stupidity of those who did not bother to check the rules”. While I believe both sides have a point, the question we should all ask is: will firing Mosimane or retaining him as coach change anything at all? Another important question to ask is that when Mosimane is sacked who will be his possible and potential successor?
Enter the “poor” sangoma…
And while still coming to terms with the loss we heard media reports indicating that sangoma S’bonele Madela claimed that the team had lost because SAFA had failed to pay the remaining of its debt to him, according to Mail & Guardian and KickOff.com, quoting Daily Sun newspaper as reporting on 11 October 2011. It was, however, not clear which was the correct figure because while M&G Online mentioned R90, 000, KickOff.com on the other hand claimed the sangoma was owed about R60, 000.
This after he had initially demanded R100, 000. It would seem SAFA approached Madela for some “magic” to ensure the national team won its match againstSierra Leone[or even other previous games?]. But because the soccer body had not paid Madela, the good sangoma then mixed up his other powerful magic just so that the poor players would not even score a single goal, something obviously Mosimane did not intend doing when he said: “Do you think I would have left [striker Lehlohonolo] Majoro on the bench and put on a midfielder if I knew that we needed a goal? It doesn’t make sense”.
According to the sangoma SAFA told him that some sangomas were expensive and some even asked for about R500 000. And because he was “poor” he then charged SAFA R100 000. He even alleged he traveled with SAFA to Bloemfontein where he worked on the ground and in the players’ dressing room because he could not meet them but said when the team won and had to pay him, it “told me they had R10 000 and that the rest will come later. I gave them an account of my friend and they deposited that money” “I waited and now when I demanded my money they threatened me with cops, but I’m not afraid of cops”, Madela told Kick-Off web site. This claim is probably true because even Nonkonyane threatened to “open a criminal case against this guy [Madela]” after he said “if the national soccer team wants to start winning, the South African Football Association must settle their debt with me first”.
But as I mentioned on Twitter this week, access to bank records and any other documents which would indicate if such an amount was deposited, the intended recipient and who could have deposited it could have given much credibility to the claim by the sangoma. I also doubt Nonkonyane’s threat would stand as witchcraft seems an impossible crime/offence to prove in a court of law. And I must give it do Madela, if the reports are true at all, for truly speaking like a man who knows his magic and teaching SAFA a thing or two and even having SAFA tasting its own supposed-to-have-been-had medicine.
Yes, SAFA has denied the sangoma’s claim but what sangoma in his right mind would go public like this knowing very well that he is not telling the truth? Why – if the sangoma reports are true but denied deliberately by SAFA – would SAFA not want to pay Madela his remaining money because they have a lot of money? For example, it paid the last Bafana Bafana a lot of money. I mean that does not make sense at all. Madela said Nonkonyane had a hope in hell if he thinks he can have him arrested because he is not afraid of cops. He said he did not sign any document with SAFA because “we sangomas don’t sign papers” but that he was “willing to talk to them face-to-face”. However, until he’s paid “Bafana will not win”.
But whatever truth there is to this sangoma story – if any at all – I would hope that SAFA has by now learned a lesson: never try to rip rip-off a sangoma because he can work his “magic” on you [and your team] such that you would lose all of your games waya waya. In a worse case scenario, you could lose every other job you d ever get.
Meanwhile there was a rumour doing rounds on Twitter late 13 October 2011 that CAF’s rule 14.1 used to disqualify Bafana Bafana had not been approved by FIFA because it had been submitted late at the time. A legally trained friend of mine said the disqualification of Bafana Bafana cannot be reversed. He said SAFA, in that case, can only lodge a civil claim against CAF. “We can only claim for reimbursement for loss of inconvenience suffered or even for embarrassment and any other negative thing that resulted from the disqualification, but NO, I repeat, the decision cannot be reversed even if the rumour is true”.
UPDATE: SAFA has since apologised and no one has lost his job, but there were reports that some administrator would be fired. Until then it remains to be seen…