NEAL COLLINS REPORTING* —- Somewhere in Zimbabwe is a bloke called ‘Ben’ who must be a very frightened man.
Ben is the only name we have for the whistleblower” who has lifted the lid on the latest Zimbabwean match-fixing scandal, revealing a web of deceit which reaches deep in to South Africa’s PSL.
At least seven players at four South African clubs were offered payments in February this year. As far as we know, none of those approaches were reported to SAFA.
So what do we know about ‘Ben’? We know he gets on well with lots of professional footballers north of the Limpopo River. He’s probably a former professional footballer and might have reached the lower ranks of agents and coaches.
We also know, thanks to the remarkable tales run in the Zimbabwe Herald this week, that ‘Ben’ is well connected with ZIFA officials who are no strangers to such shady shenanigans.
There are other names too. A South Africa-based Italian (who may look Asian) called ‘Chief’ who is reputed to be related to the notorious match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal from Singapore. I believe this man is a former South African agent with links to the rapidly disappearing giant Moroka Swallows.
Then there is former ZIFA chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya (‘Mutha’ in match-fixing circles), former Moroka Swallows coach Ian Gorowa (‘Ian’ who was also a caretaker manager at Mamelodi Sundowns) and the infamous Edzai Kasinauyo (‘Kazma’) who used to play for Swallows and Ajax Cape Town.
The named players? George Chigova, the Polokwane City goalkeeper who just last month won Man of the Match against Kaizer Chiefs.
Chigova was allegedly paid $15 000 and Polokwane defensive midfielder Lebogang Motumi got $10 000 in a deal to lose against Bidvest Wits, currently second in the PSL. On January 22, Rise and Shine – having beaten SuperSport United 4-1 the previous weekend – lost 5-0 to the Clever Boys with James Keene scoring a hat-trick.
AmaTuks goalkeeper Washington Arubi is named too, though he vehemently refused to take money off ‘Ben’ and ‘nearly assaulted’ the whistleblower.
However the approach – apparently including team-mate Partson Jaure – was never made public.
Bloemfontein Celtic keeper Patrick Tignyemb and defensive midfielder Lansthene Phalane are also implicated, which might help to explain Siwelele’s worrying slide down the PSL table.
There is also mention of Chippa United defender Mbuyiselo Sambo, who apparently agreed to help lose a game against Free State Stars.
This is not rumour-mongering. Zimbabwean police have evidence of $400 000 payments made to a South African bank account, they have SMS and WhatsApp messages between the fixers.
From the makers of AsiaGate, when copies of the Zimbabwe team-list were routinely burned and players – still unpunished – contrived to lose all over the world, there is little doubt the sequel is far more serious for South Africa.
But my tweets about this affair have been ignored by SAFA and the PSL, not to mention their talkative Communications Directors Dominic Chimhavi and Luxulo September, the man who continues to deny us crowd figures for games in South Africa.
Mlungisi Ncame apparently travelled to Harare last week to view the evidence pertaining to the PSL.
He is SAFA’s head of security” though we have not heard a word from an organisation run by president Danny Jordaan, who doubles up as mayor of Port Elizabeth these days.
Clearly, this is serious. Some kind of response should emenate from SAFA House or Parktown. Just look at this extract from ‘Ben’ in his statement to ZIFA:
“I eventually met Rushwaya at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton. She was with three men of Asian extraction, one of them called ‘Chief’ who lives in South Africa.
“Rushwaya said she wanted to start a sports betting business focusing mainly on the South African ABSA Premier League and the Zimbabwean Premier Soccer League.
“She wanted to employ me because of my close association with Zimbabwean footballers based inside and outside South Africa. I was to distribute cash payments to footballers to compromising their performance for the benefit of the betting cartels.
“The first footballer I approached (Feb 2, 2016) was Washington Arubi who currently plays for University of Pretoria in South Africa with a view to persuade him to compromise his performance in the forthcoming match against Free State Stars.
“Upon broaching the subject with him he vehemently refused and even threatened to assault me. He then immediately reported me to (goalkeeping coach) Tendai Tanyanyiwa who threatened to call the police. I only escaped by fleeing the scene.
“I’m in possession of WhatsApp Messenger text messages which I exchanged with Rushwaya following the rejection of our offer by Arubi. I attach, hereto, a copy of those text messages as Annexure ‘A1-A-6’.
“At all material times I was liaising with and co-ordinating my role with Edzai who, after my escape from University of Pretoria, contacted me (Feb 4, 2016) through mobile number +27725702427 by sending a text message at 11:19 hours demanding the return of the money I had been given to give to Washington Arubi.
“Further I communicated with Edzai (Feb 17, 2016) on the same number after he had directed me to a meeting which was to be attended by Ian Gorowa.
“He assured me that Ian was very knowledgeable of match-fixing and had a relationship with many players since 1996.”
There was much discussion about fixing the upcoming AFCON qualifiers between Zimbabwe and Swaziland — “It was agreed that the first player to be approached would be Tatenda Mukuruva.
“We convened another meeting (in Sandton, Feb 29, 2016) which was attended by Rushwaya, Gorowa, ‘Chief’, Edzai and myself. Gorowa indicated that we target Mukuruva the goalkeeper.
“We had three players who were supposed to ensure that Zimbabwe would lose by a two-goal margin. In the event that Zimbabwe scored, the compromised players had to ensure that Zimbabwe lost 3-1 with an obligation to concede a penalty and receive a red card.”
It’s a statement that cannot be disputed. Match-fixing in its purest form. We wait SAFA’s response with some trepidation.
* NEAL COLLINS can be found on Twitter @nealcol