Video: Thando Manana/Facebook. LANGUAGE WARNING: Explicit language is used in this video.
CHAOS reigned when the troubled EP Rugby Union (EPRU) held an ill-tempered annual meeting marred by brawling, disruptions and protests at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth at the weekend.
The media was barred from the stormy meeting, which turned ugly when disgruntled rugby officials forced their way into the main hall where it was being held.
There was pandemonium when suspended EPRU member Chico Februarie and Spring Rose official Amir Mpayipeli fought their way past security officials and burst into the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned for more than an hour as EP officials remonstrated with the two men.
They were told later to submit their complaints in writing and the SA Rugby Union (Saru) and the Sports Council would respond at a separate meeting.
Februarie’s suspension and other matters that were causing unhappiness would also be addressed.
When the meeting finally resumed, the unhappy delegates were allowed to remain in the hall.
One delegate said Saru chief executive Jurie Roux’s eyes were as wide as saucers as the drama unfolded.
The meeting was adjourned again later to an unspecified date because more clarity was needed regarding the financial matters of the cash-strapped union.
Because of the constitution, an expected vote of no confidence was not tabled against under-fire EP president Cheeky Watson by unhappy clubs.
Afterwards, Eastern Cape Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture MEC Pemmy Majodina addressed the media. Watson was not present. Delegates at the main table were heard asking where Watson was as they wanted to get the media briefing under way.
They were then told that Watson had left the stadium.
Asked why Watson was not there, the East Cape Sports Council’s Mkhululi Magada said: “It was agreed the people who will speak on the matter are the office of the MEC and the office of the sports council.
“We cannot reduce this matter to Mr Watson as a person, but to the institution – and the institution is here,” Magada said.
EPRU executive members Freddie Makoki and Phillip Joseph sat alongside Magada and Majodina.
“The meeting did not start in a very acceptable manner,” Majodina said.
“Emotions are always up when people have their own perception
“I am thankful that out of 126 clubs, 97 were present and there were six apologies.
“The financial statements were tabled and were engaged by the delegates.
“However, the delegates have identified a lot of issues and a lot of errors, and a lot of clarity-seeking questions on the financial statements. “The [meeting] resolved thatwe need more information. “EP Rugby was therefore mandated to approach its auditors to get more clarity.”
Majodina said no one was implying that the money, including the millions donated by the national lottery, had been squandered.
“But we are saying a lot of clarity must be sought from the auditors – and they must clarify each and every item,” she said.
“We know the organisation has been bombarded by challenges.
“It cannot be a once-off meeting that can resolve all issues, hence the AGM resolved that EP Rugby must get and collate all the information, then there will be a meeting where it will be engaged once more.
“I was happy about the contact because to me that was a robust engagement.
“Why we are coming closer to EP Rugby is because we want to assist EP Rugby and want stability and to preserve rugby in the province.
“If you approach the private sector for sponsorship, you must be sure of your books.
“Because no one can just sponsor you when you are not sure of the status of your financials,” Majodina said.
Meanwhile, the rugby players’ organisation, MyPlayers, confirmed that an application for liquidation had been brought by the SA Rugby Players’ Association against EP Rugby (Pty) Ltd.
EP Rugby has said it will oppose the application.