Feud could rip EP Rugby Union apart

Bantwini Matika
Bantwini Matika
Image: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

A public feud is threatening to rip EP Rugby apart and undo efforts to put the troubled union back on its feet after an earlier financial crisis.

Tensions are high between leading lights in the EP rugby community amid fraud allegations which have enveloped EP president Andre Rademan, former deputy president Bantwini Matika and suspended vice-president Eldridge “Chico” Februarie.

The latest round of infighting could not have come at a worse time for Eastern Cape rugby.

There are already concerns that the region could lose its prized Guinness PRO14 status after its previous owner, the Greatest Rugby Company in the Whole Wide World (GRC), failed to meet contractual commitments.

This resulted in SA Rugby stepping in to take administrative control to ensure stability.

Apart from wearing the cap of EPRU president, Rademan is also chair of new board which has been formed to steer a path forward for the Kings.

This week Matika called fraud allegations, levelled at himself, vice-president  Februarie and John Scheepers, who is in charge of club affairs, a witch hunt.

He also claims the union’s financial affairs are in a mess.

After resigning in May amid charges of misappropriation of funds, Matika has written to the union saying he is withdrawing his resignation.

Matika said he had initially resigned due to the ongoing investigation against him as he did not want to hinder the process.

But, he said, after the release of a report tabled by retired Justice Lex Mpati — who was appointed to investigate fraud allegations — he felt it was time to get back to work.

However, Rademan’s  lawyer said Matika’s withdrawal was rejected and that, should he wish to reapply for the position, he was welcome to do so.

Februarie and Scheepers put Rademan in the spotlight when they laid a fraud complaint against him at the Mount Road police station last week.

They claim more than R500,000 given to EPRU by the National Lottery Fund was misappropriated.

Februarie laid an intimidation complaint against Rademan in February claiming he had tried to intimidate him into resigning from his position.

These are troubled times for EP Rugby, whose problems appear to be heading for the law courts.

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