When the South African football Association sent a statement last week that Xolile Nkompela had been appointed acting president, I thought that finally sanity had prevailed at the SAFA House. To my disappointment, I realised that Nkompela’s appointment is only because president Danny Jordaan is out of the country on CAF and FIFA Business. But maybe my biggest disappointment was the press conference that the association called last week.
Former ANC MP Jennifer Ferguson has laid a charge of rape against Jordaan in an incident dating back to 1994. Rape is a serious allegation. Instead of Safa focusing on what they will do to ensure that the rape charge is dealt with, they held a press conference to announce that they have always supported South African women, in the form of advancing women’s football.
NEC Member Poobalan Govindsamy read the following statement. “We support women in their struggle against all forms of abuse and violence. Having said this, however, we note that there has been‚ over a period of six months‚ large-scale media attacks by some media on our president but recently on a more equitable and fair process is starting to emerge with the complainant, Miss Ferguson, having now referred her complaint to the police. We further not the worrying tendency of a trial by the media.
“In this regard, allow me to point out, on behalf of the NEC, Every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in the court of law,” says Govindsamy.
But isn’t promoting the growth of women’s football SAFA’s responsibility anyway? Or is the association doing the women’s game a favour by investing in it?
Although the charge against Jordaan is yet to be tested in a court of law but SAFA do have a history of sweeping sexual harassment cases under the carpet. It’s been almost eight years since former Banyana coach Augustine Makalakalane was fired after being accused of improper sexual conduct with a player. What happened to this case? What did SAFA do to follow up on and investigate these very serious allegations?
I find it odd that SAFA would want to update the country on the progress they have made in supporting the advancement of women when they have failed to act against a President who has a very serious charge against him. Also, I find it in bad taste that SAFA wanted to use a woman to speak on behalf of Jordaan at last week’s press conference. SAFA NEC Member Ria Ledwaba was meant to highlight the association’s success in furthering the cause of women, but Ledwaba couldn’t make it leaving Gay Mokoena to read the prepared statement in her absence. Whether Ledwaba was there or not, it is sad that a women’s name was used to buy credibility with the multitudes of women that have spoken out against the organisation for failing to suspend Jordaan pending an investigation into his conduct.