Ratepayers' monies have been diverted to fund struggling EP Kings for years now: NMBRA

NOVEMBER 9, 2015

The Nelson Mandela Bay Ratepayers Association (NMBRA) and AfriForum Port Elizabeth announced that they had conducted an investigation into Access Management, the operator of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, and discovered that the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality was channeling ratepayers monies through Access to pay the running costs of the EP Kings and the players - and that this been ongoing for a number of years.

"We has had a number of meetings with some EP Board Members and has given them proof of ratepayers monies being paid over to Access for the Kings from the Metro," said AfriForum PE Vice Chairperson and Chairperson of the NMBRA, Kobus Gerber in a statement.

"I also had discussions with [Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality Executive Mayor] Danny Jordaan regarding rugby and soccer in the Metro and he shared our concerns and agreed to assist in finding a solution to ensure that the financial situation of the EP Kings receives urgent attention."

Gerber said that he has also been in contact with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and met with Cheeky Watson on Thursday to discuss the following:

1) the financial situation of the EP Kings and the  potential sponsorship that he has been promising since June this year,

2) the reason for the delay with the sponsorship and we have insisted on proof of the sponsor which he refused to give,

3) when will the outstanding salaries to players and officials be paid of which some are up to three month in arrears,

4) the reason for him using ratepayers monies to pay running costs and the salaries of the EP Kings for a number of years,

5) that we are busy negotiating with sponsors and would he step down to allow a new sponsor to take over,

6) the upcoming High Court Application against the irregular re-appointment of Access Management and the implication  of such application on the future of EP Rugby.

"Cheeky Watson did not handle the meeting well and told me that he will discuss this with the EP Board Members on his return from Australia where he will be attending a family wedding.

"He never mentioned that he will be meeting any sponsor as quoted in the Weekend Post," Gerber said.

"AfriForum has been holding back on the High Court application against Access in order to provide Watson with the opportunity to secure a sponsor for EP Kings. This would have ensured that rugby and soccer would continue undisrupted in NMB Metro while court proceedings are underway. We entered into negotiations with sponsors to prevent the EP Kings losing players for next year’s Super 16 series." 

Hoskins' recent visit to Port Elizabeth.

According to Gerber, when SARU President, Oregan Hoskins, said he had full confidence in the current leadership under Watson, it was because Watson had not told him the truth of the situation.

"He lied to Hoskins and did not overcome the financial challenges, he received help from the Metro by using ratepayers money," Gerber said.