BY BOTLHALE KOOTHUPILE
Three years since his unceremonious departure from the Botswana Premier League (BPL) and four litigations later, Bennett Mamelodi is yet to find a reprieve in his protracted battles with the Botswana Football Association (BFA).
So far, the former BPL CEO has had four applications against the BFA but is yet to taste victory. The first such loss came at the Industrial Court in 2016 when Mamelodi challenged his redeployment from the BPL to the BFA ‘pending a forensic audit.’
In February 2017, Mamelodi’s application to interdict a disciplinary hearing against him by the BFA was dismissed by the then High Court Judge Justice Walia.
This loss was immediately followed by another loss in a case in which the former BPL CEO had applied to the High Court challenging the findings of a Forensic Audit which was instituted by the BFA and undertaken by South African based audit firm ADM Financial Forensic Services.
The former BPL CEO had sought that the forensic audit be declared ‘unlawful and accordingly invalid in its entirety or alternatively’ in so far as it relates to him.
He also wanted the High Court to ‘set aside the forensic report’ or alternatively to set aside ‘portion of the proceedings of the forensic report which relate to him.’
However, before the application could be heard, the BFA terminated his contract of employment after failures to conduct disciplinary hearings.
When the matter was finally heard by the High Court, Justgice Radijeng ruled against Mamelodi and declared the application moot as both sides, being the BFA and Mamelodi had had averred.
Mamelodi appealed the judgment, but this past Friday, the Court of Appeal (CoA) upheld Justice Radijeng’s initial ruling and Mamelodi lost with costs another application against the BFA.
However, unlike the first ruling, this time around, Mamelodi scored a minor, though Pyrrhic victory. The CoA, while dismissing the application with costs, ruled that ‘the appellant (Mamelodi)’s reputation is unsullied by unproven allegations.’
“Such criticism of the appellant (Mamelodi) as it contained was not tested in any court or tribunal and remains unproven,” the court declared.
Commenting on the matter, Mamelodi’s legal representative Dutch Leburu said while they are not satisfied with the outcome, they have to respect it as it was made by the highest court and cannot be appealed.
However, Leburu was of the opinion that from what the CoA had said in its ruling, Mamelodi’s reputation will remain intact as the allegations against him are not proven.
“They are effectively saying the allegations against Mamelodi are not proven, so they cannot tarnish and should not tarnish his image,” Leburu surmised.
Asked of his way forward, Mamelodi, for his part, said he was not sad or angry with the outcome of his appeal as his image is still intact as per the court ruling.
“It was never about winning or losing. My battle was based on principle, because I did nothing wrong, and the even the Court of Appeal has affirmed that fact. But the French have a saying that “it is the fate of glass to break.
All these allegations needed to be brought into the sunlight because the sunlight is a great sanitizer,” he declared.
“My name, image, integrity and credibility, until the pronouncement by the Court of Appeal, had been defamed and dragged in the mud,” Mamelodi explained.
He however said he would have relished testing the findings of the BFA instigated forensic audit in court, a chance which he believes will never come as the BFA is reluctant to defend it in the court of laws.
Meanwhile, when commenting on the matter, one BFA insider said they always knew they would win the case as they had a lot of evidence.
However, when asked whether the BFA would drag Mamelodi before the courts to answer for his alleged transgressions, the BFA official said the association has not intention of doing such.
“I know that if we could take this matter to the courts, we would once again prevail because as we undertake any task in front of us with due diligence and this matter was no different,” the BFA official said.
When asked whether they will drag the former BPL CEO before the courts, the evasive BFA official played a humanitarian card, saying humane as they are, ‘they will not flog a dead horse.”
“Considering that Mamelodi has lost many against us with costs, it would be inhumane of us to make him pay as he already has a large legal bill to pay,” he said.
Now with one last match of the Mamelodi versus BFA yet to be played, can the former BPL CEO score a consolation or will the BFA kill off the game? The Courts will be the referees!